Eno Benjamin watched from afar as Iowa rolled up rushing yards with two-star tailbacks lugging footballs behind NFL-bound blockers.
He wondered how the Hawkeyes might fare if they turned those bruising linemen loose and assigned carries to a running back with a bigger recruiting resume.
Benjamin is eager to find out.
The prized Texas prep running back committed to Iowa on Monday evening, when he picked the Hawkeyes over a field that included at least 25 other major college programs, including 19 Power 5 conference schools. Benjamin whittled his list of suitors to Iowa, Michigan, Baylor and Oklahoma State before announcing his final choice on Twitter.
“Over the course of a few months, they’ve shown me that they have been committed to me,” Benjamin told Rivals.com. “They have shown me that I have been a top priority to them, and when I went up there and took a visit I was very impressed.”
Benjamin is a consensus four-star prospect who’s ranked among the top 15 running backs nationally in the 2017 class by Rivals, Scout and 247 Sports. He rushed for 2,652 yards and 41 touchdowns and scored four more times on special teams last fall for Wylie East (Texas) High School.
“When I saw him on film, I could see what all the talk was about,” recruiting guru Tom Lemming said.
“He’s got great vision and balance and his power is very good because he runs with his pads low and he leans forward and gets a lot of yards after initial contact. He’s got terrific lateral movement. He’s a complete back. He can run outside or inside, and he’s perfect for the Iowa offense because he’s a guy who can hide behind the big blockers and then explode.”
The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Texan is the ninth player to join Iowa’s 2017 class and the second prospect who’s ranked among the top 100 juniors nationally by at least one service. The Hawkeyes picked up a pledge in January from A.J. Epenesa, considered by some analysts as the nation’s top junior defensive end.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz predicted last fall that his program’s record-setting 2015 season would return recruiting dividends in 2017. The latest addition bumped the Hawkeyes up two notches to No. 12 in the Rivals.com team recruiting standings.
Benjamin is the first four-star running back to commit to Iowa since Greg Garmon pledged to Iowa’s 2012 class.
“They are doing all that stuff with two- and three-star running backs from my standpoint,” Benjamin told Rivals.com last month. “The way I think about it is, with those big offensive lines they put together, just imagine what you could do with a four-star running back out there.”