Before he became Iowa’s running backs coach, Ladell Betts won the hearts of Hawkeye fans with his combination of tough physical running and his deceptive burst of speed. Now, Betts has helped his alma mater sign a running back that shares many of the same attributes that made him one of the best ballcarriers to suit up for the Hawkeyes over the past few decades.
Kaleb Johnson, RB
Wt: 215 lbs
Hometown: Hamilton, OH (Hamilton HS)
Stars: 247 Sports – 3; Rivals – 4
Johnson was a Second-Team All-District selection who emerged as one of the most talented backs in the state of Ohio over the course of his senior season. The Hawkeyes offered Johnson in March 2021 and was among the favorites to land his services, but appeared to be out of the running when the rising senior committed to the University of California on June 20 and cancelled his upcoming visit to Iowa City.
However, many fans held out hope that Johnson would eventually end up donning the black and gold rather than the blue and gold. Momentum began to shift in Iowa’s favor when it was announced that Johnson was rescheduling his visit and would be in attendance for Iowa’s home game against Penn State. Whether it was the atmosphere of Iowa’s thrilling victory over the Nittany Lions, Cal’s struggles this season (the Golden Bears finished the year with a 5-7 record), or something entirely different, Johnson was swayed by his trip to Iowa City and announced him commitment to the then #2 ranked Hawkeyes on October 12.
Johnson has the size of a bruising power back but is much fleeter of foot than his frame might indicate. Johnson has great vision, solid footwork and agility, and can absolutely burn defenders in the open field once he reaches his top speed.
Johnson is Iowa’s 3rd-highest rated commit in the 2022 class according to 247’s Composite Rankings and is the highest ranked offensive player headed to Iowa next fall. With Tyler Goodson and Ivory Kelly-Martin both ending the Hawkeye careers, Johnson will have an opportunity to compete with Gavin Williams, LeShon Williams, Deavin Hilson, and fellow incoming freshman Jaziun Patterson for carries in 2022.