Recruit Recon: John Waggoner – DE

Story by Cody Pech

Iowa City, Iowa – Our team at Hawkeye Heaven is writing a series of articles where we highlight each of the 22 commitments Iowa received in the 2018 class. We’ll share each recruit’s highlights, and do our best to mention what jumps out at us about each player on tape. Then we will predict what kind of an impact we think they will make in a Hawkeye uniform. Up next is the #1 recruit in the state of Iowa for the 2018 class, Mr. John Waggoner. 


John Waggoner is a 6’6 260 lb defensive end who committed to Iowa after playing his high school ball for the powerhouse program that is Dowling Catholic located in West Des Moines, Iowa. Waggoner turned down offers from the who’s who of college football in order to become a Hawkeye. That list included Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Florida, Nebraska, and Iowa’s in-state rival – Iowa State. Waggoner is currently listed as a 4 star recruit by Rivals. He is more than deserving of being ranked the #1 recruit in the state of Iowa.

Tom Wilson, Dowling Catholic’s head football coach, said this was the first recruit in his tenure at Dowling Catholic to ever receive an offer from Ohio State and only the second in his time to receive a call from Michigan.  He had this to say about him:

“We felt he was a Division 1 kid, but you never know, I don’t know if you can ever predict how recruiting will take off, but I think you can predict the potential in somebody. and we definitely saw that.”

If you want to hear some great insight from John himself feel free to check out the podcast we did with him a few weeks back RIGHT HERE.



I’ve done some coaching in Class 4A in the Des Moines region myself. It was neat watching film on Waggoner because I had the chance to see him dominating against familiar competition. I’ll limit my takeaways to the three most exciting things I saw:

1. His Explosiveness off the football reminds me of some of the best in the game, not just as the college level but at the NFL level. The kid explodes out of his stance, delivers a blow to offensive tackles and tight ends, and packs a serious punch with his hands on impact. His ability to shed blockers, read and react is impressive.

2. Waggoner has great footwork for a young man with his size and experience level. Footwork is important when exploding off the ball, and his ability to read and react then get down the line of scrimmage is tremendous. For a big guy, he is pretty light on his feet and he can change direction in a hurry.

3. Waggoner’s knack for sniffing out plays is what helped lead his Maroon’s to back to back to back state championships. His size and athletic ability just isn’t fair at this level of football in Iowa. It’s rare to see anyone that he played on film who had the ability to handle him on a consistent basis. He’s just that much better than his competition.


The future is as bright as it gets for Waggoner. There’s a reason he’s a 4 star athlete and was highly recruited by the best in the business. His development at this stage of his career is on par with a lot of 1st or 2nd year college players already. Which means he won’t be too far behind. He’ll have a learning curve with the level of competition he will be facing. He will have some great talent in front of him to learn from with guys like A.J. Epenesa and Anthony Nelson already wreaking havoc at defensive end for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa has a lot of talent at the defensive end position. In recent years Waggoner probably could have come in and earned some immediate playing time as a freshman. I’m not sure that’s the case right now because of how deep they are at his position, but it’s not because he wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s more that depth in front of him will allow him a year to get adjusted to the college level and spend some time with Coach Doyle. Then by the time he enters his redshirt freshman season he’ll be primed and ready to play a big role for the Hawkeye defense.

Welcome to the Hawkeye family John Waggoner! 

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