Kaleb Johnson was one of around 80 recruits the Iowa football program welcomed to campus for last weekend’s game against Penn State.
The experience left a definite impression on the running back from Hamilton, Ohio.
After originally committing to California in June, Johnson verbally committed to sign with the Hawkeyes in December on Tuesday night.
He announced his decision on social media.
“This is really home. Parents and my coaches talked and I’m closing my recruitment and focusing only on this school,’’ Johnson wrote on Twitter, his words accompanied by a graphic showing Johnson in an Iowa uniform with the words “Committed. Go Hawkeyes’’ over an image of Kinnick Stadium.
He concluded by thanking coaches who had recruited and established relationships with him during the process. He singled out Iowa running backs assistant Ladell Betts, offensive line coach George Barnett and director of recruiting Tyler Barnes in his announcement.
Johnson is a 6-foot-1, 215-pound back who rushed for 786 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games as a junior last season at Hamilton High School, just outside of Cincinnati.
The large group of recruits was one of the largest Iowa has hosted during the season in coach Kirk Ferentz’s 23-year tenure.
He said Tuesday at his weekly news conference that things went well both on and off the field.
“It couldn’t have gone much better. The fans certainly helped us and then the team brought it home, so that’s a positive,’’ Ferentz said. “I’m not a big fan of recruiting in season. I like to focus on the guys that we have recruited.’’
Ferentz said the environment left recruits with a clear picture of what the Iowa program is about.
“It’s so different than looking on the internet, so different than talking to people or taking somebody’s word for it to really feel it,’’ Ferentz said. “It’s pretty special. So, that was good for us and as far as I know there’s been no negative feedback.’’
Johnson caught the attention of a number of recruiters when he was named as the most valuable player at running back at the Rivals Camp Series in Indianapolis in May.
He ultimately selected Iowa over offers from 15 programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision including Cal, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and a number of Mid-American Conference programs.
Johnson is ranked by both 247Sports and Rivals as a three-star prospect on a five-star scale and is regarded as a top-40 running back recruit in the Class of 2022.
He is the second running back to verbally commit to signing with Iowa in December, the earliest date that current high school seniors are allowed to sign binding letters of intent with college programs.
Jaziun Patterson, a 5-10, 195-pound running back from Deerfield Beach, Fla., committed to the Hawkeyes on Aug. 17 as part of a recruiting class that now numbers 11 players.