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Instant impact: Iowa, Nebraska to get early help from commits

There are still 10 months until National Signing Day 2017, but over 50 prospects throughout the Midwest region have already committed to Power Five schools. Here is a look at five of those commitments who could have an immediate impact at their chosen destinations.

Recruiting overview: Epenesa’s father played for Iowa and the Hawkeyes were always going to be strong players in his recruitment. Oklahoma and several other schools made strong pushes for the four-star, but he ended his recruitment with a commitment to Iowa in January.

Impact potential: As the No. 28 ranked prospect in 2017, Epenesa is the highest ranked prospect Iowa has landed since 2005 and is only their fourth four-star commitment in the last five classes. The addition of talent he provides is certainly needed on the Hawkeyes' roster, and Epenesa has the frame and skill set to contribute early in his career. Currently listed at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Epenesa brings both quickness and athleticism to the defensive end position while possessing the size and length coaches covet coming off the edge.

Recruiting overview: Although McQuitty made his college selection during the winter of his junior year, his recruitment with Nebraska was nearly a year old. The Cornhuskers were the first to offer him in April 2015, and he chose them over 10 other programs on March 12.

Impact potential: Evaluating early impact players is different than projecting overall college potential because playing as a freshman is largely dependent on opportunity, position and degree of talent actualization. McQuitty is a four-star prospect, so he is obviously a talented player, but he is also ahead of the curve from a development standpoint and plays a position that is easier to acclimate to at the college level compared to, say, offensive line or linebacker. Nebraska loses three of their top four receivers after the 2016 season, so the opportunity is also there for McQuitty.

Recruiting overview: Despite his talent and high ranking, Richardson’s recruitment had not built a lot of momentum before his March 27 commitment. Richardson held just six offers, but Kentucky was the first from a Power Five school and it came a full year before his commitment.

Impact potential: Kentucky has been a recruiting fixture in the state of Ohio since Mark Stoops took over following the 2012 season, signing 32 prospects from the Buckeye State in that time. As the No. 84 prospect in the 2017 class, though, Richardson is the highest ranked of that group. What makes Richardson a candidate for early playing time is his versatility and the physical skill set he provides in a 6-foot-4, 210-pound package. Kentucky is talking about bringing him in as a wide receiver, which is one of the easiest positions to see the field early, but he could also play defense and has experience returning kicks.

Recruiting overview: The No. 1 ranked prospect in the state of Kansas’ 2017 class was building an impressive offer list, but a mid-March visit to Northwestern stopped that recruitment in its tracks. Kent went home, convened with his parents and committed to the Wildcats within days of that visit.

Impact potential: Kent is another prospect who should be physically ready to compete when he steps on campus. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds, Kent is a big-framed prospect who has excellent growth potential and could arrive in Evanston north of 270 pounds. The No. 17 strongside defensive end in the 2017 class has shown his athleticism on both sides of the football in high school. The Wildcats plan to bring Kent in as a defensive end -– where they just lost their top two players from last season –- but his size and skill set could also see him move inside eventually.

Recruiting overview: Johnson was one of the first quarterbacks to be heavily recruited in the 2017 class and made a commitment to Tennessee at the beginning of his junior season. He then surprised many when he de-committed from the Volunteers and committed to Clemson in December.

Impact potential: This is a situation where talent meets opportunity. Heisman Trophy finalist DeShaun Watson will likely be gone when Johnson arrives as a freshman. The Tigers have recruited well behind Watson, bringing in two four-star signal callers in 2015 and 2016 and having commitments from two more Rivals250 passers in 2017. Johnson is the only five-star of that group, though, and should have every opportunity to win the job. His challenge over the next year will be turning his immense talent into consistent on-field production.