Iowa fans who know a thing or two about recruiting already feel a tinge of excitement about the Hawkeyes’ recent Week 1 depth chart release.
Of course, there are the usual characters and expected starters. C.J. Beathard checking in as the starting quarterback was a given. LeShun Daniels Jr. was the expected starter in the backfield, with Akrum Wadley providing valuable backup support.
One name that does stand out on the offensive depth chart, though, is at wide receiver: No. 3, Scheel.
Jay Scheel, to be exact.
The former 2014 three-star recruit was ranked the No. 30 national athlete and the No. 3 recruit from Iowa that cycle, according to 247Sports. He’s from La Porte City, Iowa (Union), and was the Hawkeyes’ top-rated recruit in that 2014 class.
What made Scheel so exciting was his play-making potential. At that point he was 6-foot-1, 180 pounds. He had played quarterback and wide receiver for his high school. He was a three-year letterman who threw for 1,650 yards and 18 touchdowns in his senior season. He also rushed for 493 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
As an Iowa recruiting reporter at the time, this writer was able to see Scheel’s amazing potential as a slot receiver. Here’s what I wrote in a VIP post.
Iowa won’t need him at quarterback, but his speed, agility and running ability will make him a very dangerous receiver.
It’s not hard to see him causing trouble in the slot, where he’ll be able to quickly get the ball into his hands and make something happen. Anything from a bubble screen to a quick slant would really be in his wheel-house, but he also does have the speed and athleticism to get vertical and beat his man over the top as well.
That potential now follows Scheel into his redshirt sophomore season, when he’s expected to start for Iowa at the X wideout spot despite a history of injuries.
That VIP post mentioned above was a report on Scheel’s thoughts after knee surgery in May of 2014.
“Just had some pain with them, and had to get some work done on them,” Scheel said when asked the reasoning behind the surgery.
Scheel redshirted in 2014 and barely gained any game action in 2015. He suffered a hamstring injury earlier this summer that hindered him in camp, but he seems ready to go now — ready to start.
Here’s what he told Don Doxsie of the Quad-City Times in mid-August:
“I’m just trying to go out and do the things I do,’’ Scheel said. “I feel ready and I feel like I’ve prepared myself the way I need to. I don’t think you can’t put added pressure on yourself. You just have to go out and perform to the best of your ability.’
Scheel now has three seasons in Iowa’s system under his belt and he’s bigger: 195 pounds.
He’ll be well-equipped to start Week 1, when Iowa takes on Miami (Ohio), but that experience plus more weight on his bones will help him once the Hawkeyes reach the Big Ten slate, when the opponents are bigger, tougher and stronger.
Still, Scheel’s athleticism makes him such an exciting target for Iowa. He has the speed to outrun linebackers and safeties. Once he gets the ball, he knows how to make people miss and find the end zone. In an Iowa offense that has — at times — struggled to move the ball in the past, Scheel could become one of Beathard’s best friends, whether in the slot or on the edges with his size and speed.
Until this moment Scheel has been talked about as an athlete with a ton of potential for Iowa. Hawkeye fans will finally see that potential in extended action in Week 1.