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Recruiting mailbag: Nwankpa, Proctor, Dailey most sought-after trio since ... when?


Matthew Bain   | Des Moines Register
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Hello everyone. Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.

Anyone see how well Monte Morris performed Tuesday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals? The Iowa State alum scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes off the bench in his Nuggets' 114-106 win over the Lakers.

This was, without a doubt, the most important game in Denver's season. A 3-0 deficit is all but insurmountable in the NBA playoffs, especially against a team sporting LeBron James.

Morris has gained the reputation as a starting-caliber point guard who comes off the bench around the league. He has one more season on his three-year contract with the Nuggets. Then, after the 2020-21 season, he'll become an unrestricted free agent.

He's going to get a nice little paycheck when that time comes.

Anyway. Nobody asked, but go Celtics.

Let's get to this week's questions, which focus on a three-headed, Division-I monster in the CIML and up-and-coming in-state football prospects to monitor.

Jaxon Dailey, Xavier Nwankpa and Kadyn Proctor of Southeast Polk are the most highly recruited teammate trio since who in Iowa high school history?

Since ... ever. At least in the modern recruiting era.

Xavier Nwankpa is the Register's No. 1 in-state 2022 prospect. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound safety is a consensus four-star prospect and, given how fast his stock is rising, he could eventually become a five-star recruit. LSU just became his 19th offer this week.

Kadyn Proctor is only the second sophomore to make the Register's Iowa Eight. (Wisconsin-bound T.J. Bollers was the first.) The 6-7, 280-pounder is already considered a top-50 national prospect and could become a five-star recruit down the line. This is just his first year on varsity, too. It's not an exaggeration to say the sky's the limit here. Penn State just became his 10th offer Tuesday night.

Jaxon Dailey is the Register's No. 6 in-state 2022 prospect. He added 35 pounds of bulk in the offseason, during which he landed offers from Michigan, Iowa State and Buffalo, and he's now a well-rounded, 6-2, 205-pound, dual-threat quarterback who's rising on big boards throughout the country.

Among the three of them, Nwankpa, Proctor and Dailey hold offers from: Iowa State, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio State, Penn State, Buffalo, Texas, LSU, Oregon, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Arkansas, Kansas State, Florida Atlantic, Kentucky, Michigan State and Princeton.

I can't remember any trio of in-state teammates with that kind of recruiting attention.

The closest in recent memory is probably when TCU quarterback Max Duggan, Nebraska tight end recruit Thomas Fidone and Iowa defensive tackle Logan Jones were on the same Lewis Central team a couple years ago. But Fidone and Jones had yet to reach the heights of their recruitment. Also a couple years ago, Bettendorf had current Iowa State receiver Darien Porter and Iowa defensive tackle recruit Griffin Liddle. Valley has Kansas State quarterback recruit Jake Rubley, Kansas State running back recruit Jayden Williams and Big Ten/Big 12 2022 tight end target Eli Raridon right now.

In terms of current recruiting prowess and attention, none of those groups match what Southeast Polk has in Nwankpa, Proctor and Dailey, who have led the 4-0 Rams to the state's No. 1 ranking two straight weeks.

I caught up with all three of them this week to get updates on their recruitments.

Nwankpa: He told me Ohio State, Missouri, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan State are showing a lot of interest right now. Iowa State is also a constant presence. Of schools that haven't yet offered, he said Clemson and Florida State are also involved.

With an offer sheet of 19 schools and counting, Nwankpa said he's taking his time with his recruitment and hasn't narrowed anything down yet.

"It’s exciting," Nwankpa told me of his recruiting attention. "Looking back, I never thought I’d be in the position, so the opportunities I have had are just blessings that I’m excited I have had."

Nwankpa has 16 tackles, a kick-return touchdown, 238 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries, and three catches for 26 yards.

Proctor: He told me the main interest he's receiving is coming from the 10 schools that have offered: Michigan, Iowa State, Oregon, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas State, Arizona State, Arkansas, Missouri and Penn State. Georgia is also monitoring Proctor.

Just a sophomore, Proctor is obviously far from a college decision. He's just enjoying his first year on varsity.

"I'm feeling ecstatic," he said.

Proctor has helped pave the way for 15 touchdowns and 1,051 rushing yards through four games on 7.2 yards per carry.

Dailey: He told me that, other than Iowa State, Michigan and Buffalo, he is also getting consistent interest from Rice, Missouri, LSU, Ole Miss, Iowa, Miami of Ohio, Louisville and Kansas State. He doesn't appear to be close to a decision, either.

"The contact is something that’s cool to see and be a part of, but it’s something that I don’t really put an extensive amount of thought into due to us being in season," Dailey said. "That’s something that I spend more time thinking about and focusing on in the offseason."

Dailey has completed 41 of 64 passes for 653 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. He has also rushed 23 times for 126 yards and two more scores.

What “unknown” sophomores, juniors and seniors have been impressing and may draw football interest from D1 schools?

Plenty of under-the-radar names have enjoyed great starts to the football season. There are 10 that stand out off the top of my head:

Jamison Patton, QB/ATH, 2023, Des Moines Roosevelt

Patton has high-level, dual-threat quarterback written all over him. At 6-1, and 195 pounds, he has completed 31 of 59 passes for 367 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He's added 18 carries for 62 yards and three more scores. All these stats are from just two games, because Des Moines Public Schools suspended fall sports after Sept. 8.

J.J. Kohl, QB, 2023, Ankeny Centennial

The son of Kohl's Kicking founder Jamie Kohl, the younger Kohl has found his home at quarterback. He has excellent size for his age (6-6, 210 pounds). So far, he's completed 35 of 67 passes for 303 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions as the starter.

Jaxon Smolik, QB, 2023, Dowling Catholic

So it feels like 2023 is going to be the year of the quarterback in Iowa. Smolik splits reps behind center, but he's shown promise in his limited opportunities — 277 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions on 28-of-53 passing. He throws a great ball and has good size at 6-2, 180 pounds.

Tono Cornell, DE, 2024, Independence

Yep, a freshman. He has logged only 1.5 tackles this fall and is listed as an offensive lineman, but his size (6-2, 260) and athleticism at his age make him a prospect to watch in the coming years.

Watts McBride, DB, 2023, Cedar Rapids Washington

McBride has promising size — 6 feet, 175 pounds — and he flies all over the field for Washington as a cornerback, safety and outside linebacker. He ranks third in Class 4A with 32.5 tackles. That type of size and production as a sophomore is going to open eyes, especially in the state's largest class.

Eddie Burgess, ATH, 2022, Montezuma

Athletic and 6-4, and listed at 215 pounds, Burgess is annihilating eight-player football competition this fall. As quarterback, he has 1,154 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns and two interceptions, plus 62 rushes for 490 yards and 11 more scores. On defense, he has 23 tackles and three tackles for loss. He also has two kickoff-return touchdowns. It's more difficult to evaluate at the eight-player level, but I've got Burgess at No. 20 in the Register's in-state 2022 rankings. He feels like a tight end or defensive end at the next level.

Jase Bauer, QB, 2021, Ankeny

Bauer, the Register's No. 19 in-state 2021 prospect, isn't exactly under the radar, but I wanted to give him a shoutout. He has put together an awesome season thus far, with 679 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception, plus 338 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. He's an FCS/Group of Five target right now, but he could open some more Power Five eyes throughout the season.

Deavin Hilson, LB, 2021, Des Moines North

Even though North has played just two games this fall, the 6-1, 200-pound Hilson did enough to earn his first Division-I offer from Northern Iowa. Always a highly athletic, three-sport athlete, Hilson molded himself into a D-I linebacker over the offseason. It's believed he'll be the first North football player to go straight to D-I since Andre Allen in 1991. Iowa State and South Dakota are also showing interest.

Jack Rutz, QB/ATH, 2022, Johnston

Rutz has shown some nice flashes as Johnston's quarterback so far. He's got good size at 6-2 and 190 pounds, and he can use his legs to make plays happen. He's 50-for-97 for 714 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions, and he's rushed 23 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns.

Wyatt Hunter, RB, 2021, Grinnell

The 6-foot, 210-pound senior is just putting up absurd numbers this fall. He has 88 carries for 1,082 yards and 18 touchdowns — good for 12.4 yards per carry — through four games. He's caught seven passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns, and he's got 13.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception as a linebacker, too. Hunter is a Division III/NAIA-level prospect right now, but a full season like this could potentially bump him up to Division II or junior college.

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As always, feel free to send me questions over Twitter or to mbain@dmreg.com. I know I do the call-out for questions on Twitter on Mondays, but I'm happy to take questions any other day of the week, too.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network.  Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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