Iowa’s 2022 recruiting class got a lot better a couple days ago when the best player in the state, 4-star safety Xavier Nwankpa, confirmed his choice of the Hawkeyes over Notre Dame and Ohio State. Ranked the 45th-best prospect in the nation, Nwankpa put some shine on an otherwise lackluster class.

With the addition of the 6-2, 190-pound prep star out of Southeast Polk in Altoona, Iowa’s class ranking jumped for No. 51 in the nation to No. 39 and from 12th to 9th in the Big Ten.

Unless Kirk Ferentz and his staff reel in a couple more high-quality recruits in the next couple days, this 2022 class will rank as a bit of a disappointment. The silver lining, though, is that last year’s class ranked 24th in the nation, Ferentz’s best class since 2005. So maybe the “next men up” are already on the roster. Maybe the program didn’t have more than 12 slots to fill on its depth chart.

This is where Iowa’s incoming class stands as Monday, Dec. 13, per 247Sports composite rankings:

By the numbers

Overall rank: 39th
B1G rank: 9th
5-stars: 0
4-stars: 2

Did they find a future QB?

Well, they’ve added their 5th 3-star signal-caller in as many years, for whatever that is worth. At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Carson May from Jones, Okla., fits the Spencer Petras mold. Again, for whatever that’s worth.

With Deuce Hogan having entered the transfer portal, May seems to be up to at least 4th on the depth chart before ever setting foot on campus. He’s 29th among QBs in the 247Sports composite player rankings.

Who is the best offensive player?

Kaleb Johnson ranks 33rd among RBs and 425th overall in the nation, which puts him ahead of future teammate and fellow running back Jaziun Patterson, who ranks 40th and 528th. Johnson (6-1, 215) hails from Ohio and Patterson (5-11, 190) from Florida.

Who is the best defensive player?

That would be Nwankpa, who some ratings services rank as a 5-star player. He’s described as an all-around safety, highly capable in coverage, run support and even blitzing the quarterback. Within a couple years, he should fit right in to Iowa’s ball-hawking secondary.

What position did they recruit the best?

Defensive line. Two of the next 4 recruits behind Nwankpa are DLs: 4-star Aaron Graves (6-6, 260) and 3-star Caden Crawford (6-4, 235). Graves, from Gowrie, Iowa, ranks inside the top 100 players in the nation and 16th among DLs. Crawford is the 2nd-best player out of Kansas but only 73rd among DLs.

What positions do they still need to recruit?

Linebacker: The Hawks have only 1 LB coming in so far, their lowest ranked of 12 recruits, Jayden Montgomery (5-11, 215) from Wisconsin. He likely won’t see the field for a couple years, and the team will likely be getting thin at the position by then. Iowa also brought in only 1 3-star LB last year.

Wide receiver: They are bringing in 1, Jacob Bostick (6-3, 170), the 10th-best player from Illinois and 83rd best WR in the nation. The class includes 2 TEs, but no one behind Bostick to stock up a roster weak spot.

Did they keep the best players home?

Yes. The Hawks signed the top 2 players in the state, which means they got half of the 4-star players it had available. Iowa State took players 4-6 in the state, but getting the 2 best recruits plus No. 8 gives the Hawkeyes a slight edge over the Cyclones. Both schools missed out on 4-star TE Eli Raridon from West Des Moines, who chose Notre Dame.

Overall, how you should feel about this class …

It’s a typical Iowa class, one that’ll be hard to judge until 2 or 3 years down the road. Getting Nwankpa kept it from being an awful class — it would have been the worst-ranked group since 2015 had the homegrown safety not chosen the Hawks. May, the QB, is described as a raw talent, so maybe he can develop into a competent B1G quarterback.

Iowa added just 1 DB, 1 LB and 1 WR in this group. Maybe Ferentz and his staff are comfortable with the depth already on hand at those spots. Whatever the case, this is the smallest class since Ferentz welcomed only 9 players in 2014. On the positive side, almost no one does more with less than Iowa.