Last Tuesday (1/12) Julius Brents, a 6’2”, 205 pound defensive back formerly of the Iowa Hawkeye football program, announced he was committed to Kansas State.
Psalm 119:105 #EMAW #DPWT pic.twitter.com/EDna0KidxA— Julius Brents (@Jbrents_18) January 12, 2021
As a Recruit
Much like Russ Yeast, Brents is a player I’ve followed for some time. He attended Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana and was a player I hoped would give in-state Purdue a shot.
Ranked as the 4th best player in Indiana for the 2018 class, the 4* (per Rivals) recruit had plenty of options coming out of high school, and eventually signed with Iowa over offers from Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Michigan State (among others).
At 6’2, 180, he was projected as a safety by the recruiting services but ended up playing cornerback for Iowa. His career got off to a fast start with the Hawkeyes. He started five games for a solid 2018 (9-4) team. He recorded 13 tackles, one interception and three defended passes as a true freshman and it looked like he was on the fast track to success in Iowa City.
He was expect to play a major role in 2019, but a knee injury suffered in fall camp lingered and he was forced to take a redshirt after he was unable to return to 100%. 2020 wasn’t much better for Brents. He was unable to reclaim a spot on the depth chart and only saw the field as a deep reserve and special teams contributor.
Earlier this year he announced his intentions to transfer out of the Iowa program. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.
What He Brings to the Table at K-State
This depends on his health. Rumor around the water cooler is that the knee injury that cost Brents the 2019 substantially sapped the athleticism that made him a 4* recruit coming out of Warren Central. It’s always hard to tell with these things, but what I can tell you is that Kirk Ferentz still considered Brents a valuable piece for his defense and was disappointed in his transfer.
If he’s healthy, Kansas State gets a 4* defensive back with the ability to play either corner or safety. As a corner, he gives the Wildcats a tall, long armed player capable of competing against taller boundary receivers. He built like current K-State corner Justin Gardner, and plays a similar game. Teams that feature the back shoulder 50/50 ball to big, outside receivers will struggle with Brents playing the boundary.
Another option for Brents is safety. As I mentioned above, he was evaluated as a safety coming out of high school, and could settle in as a deep safety for the Wildcats, even if he’s lost a 1⁄2 step because of his knee. K-State is slated to lose both starting safeties (McPherson and Yeast) after the 2021 season and Julius could make an intriguing starting option in 2022.
This is a gamble on talent. There is a reason why Brents was one of the more sought after defensive backs in the Midwest as a recruit. He has prototypical size for a boundary corner in todays game and is versatile enough to move back a level and play deep safety. His best “value” is at corner, because players with his length and speed are rare, but he could easily use that size and speed to erase passes in the deep 1⁄3 of the field as a safety.
To put his talent in perspective, if Brents signed with Kansas State out of high school, he would have been the highest overall rated recruit in the 2018 class. He would also be the highest rated defender since Terrell Clinkscales in 2014. He’s the type of talent Coach Klieman needs to gamble on in the transfer portal.
If his knee is right, the Wildcats landed a 4* defensive back with three years of eligibility remaining. If his knee isn’t right, he’s still a useful player capable of contributing at two positions.
Fingers crossed he left his bad wheel in Iowa City.