Hawks Land the Top Iowa Recruit in the 2018 Class: DE John Waggoner

Story by Derek Pech

Des Moines – This past Tuesday, a little after the noon hour, the Hawkeye football program received the best news it has heard in quite some time when Dowling Catholic High School’s John Waggoner announced his commitment to stay home and play for the University of Iowa.

This is a huge commitment for the Hawkeye football program when you consider the fact that Waggoner is a consensus 4* recruit who held offers from the who’s who in the college football world (LSU, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, etc. etc. etc.). He is far and away the best talent in the state of Iowa for the 2018 class, and he’s currently ranked as the #21 best weak-side defensive end in the entire country.

Waggoner’s recruit is a monster steal for the Hawkeye football program. Personally, I’ve followed his recruitment closely because I work with some folks who have kids that go to Dowling and play on the Maroons football team with John. As a huge Hawkeye fan myself I couldn’t help but ask for the scoop on John’s recruitment on occasion throughout the past year or two, and I can tell you that there were times when it seemed like a certainty that he was heading out of state. As time went on, it seemed like John was starting to lean back towards the Hawkeyes, and he ultimately made his commitment to them this past Tuesday.

The point here is that the Hawkeye coaching staff deserves a tremendous amount of credit for sticking with his recruitment through the end. Their persistence paid off big time with this one. It’s well known that the Hawks have had a painful past with top level recruits choosing to leave the state of Iowa. Oliver Martin, Ross Pierschbacher, and Amari Darboh immediately come to mind. Not this time. They stuck with John Waggoner and it paid off, and now the Hawkeye defensive line is looking like it will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

Every Hawkeye fan is well aware of the 6’5 270 lb freshmen phenom that is AJ Epenesa. He’s made an instant impact this season collecting 15 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a true freshman. Waggoner won’t join the football team at 6’5 270 lbs like Epenesa did, but it won’t take him long to get there once Doyle gets a hold of him. He already has a 6’5 240 lb frame, and he projects more as a weak-side defensive end anyways so he may not need to get his weight up as high as AJ in order to see the field. No matter what way you slice it the future defensive end position at the University of Iowa is probably going to feature AJ Epenesa and John Waggoner on the field at the same time. That combination will be downright dangerous for opposing offenses.

In addition, Iowa looks like it has a bright future at the defensive tackle position as well with guys like Daviyon Nixon (who has an Alabama offer) coming in from Iowa Western Community College in January, and another in-state star in Tyler Linderbaum from Solon.

It’s widely known in the college football world that the defensive line position is the hardest to recruit yet single most important position on the field. With the commitment of John Waggoner it appears that Iowa has locked this position down for the foreseeable future. That has to be a huge sigh of relief for both the Hawkeye coaching staff, and Hawkeye fans everywhere.

Check out John’s highlights from his junior year below!

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