Its been about a month since the college football season ended. So, I was kind of sitting around the other day and I asked myself, what kind of holes exist in the Iowa Hawkeye football program for next year?
Well, after looking a while I came up with this. The three linebacker spots are the biggest question mark. Tight end, who will play opposite Desmond King at cornerback, and safety are the other big question marks that popped out at me.
Lets start at the linebacker position. Anthony Hitchens, James Morris, and Christian Kirksey all graduate – lucky us. Right now it looks like Quinton Alston, Travis Perry, and Reggie Spearman will be the guys that will see the field this upcoming fall. Alston, a senior, hasn’t seen much field time in his career. He admits that it’s been hard riding the bench, but is looking forward to his chance.
“It’s been hard not playing. … Next year we’re looking forward to it, and I believe we can step up to the task.” – Quinton Alston, hawkcentral.com
Perry will be a redshirt junior, while Spearman will be a sophomore. There isn’t a lot of experience at all because all three of these guys saw very limited field action with the impact the 3 linebackers in front of them made on the field.
Iowa does have a middle linebacker already committed for next year and they also have two outside linebackers ready to join the program. Whether one of them makes an immediate impact will remain to be seen.
Right now, I think Alston, Spearman, and Perry are the early leaders to take over these spots.
Jordan Lomax, who will be a junior, is likely to replace B.J. Lowery on the outside and opposite Desmond King. Jalen Embry or Marcel Joly also have the ability to replace the Hawkeye standout cornerback. As long as Desmond King builds off his outstanding true freshman season the Hawkeyes are sure to have at least one shut down corner.
I am not at all worried about the tight end spot. Jake Duzey looks like a great replacement for the graduated C.J. Fiedorowicz. Iowa has a tradition of bringing in tight ends that are very productive, so this one should be the least of the worries for the Hawkeyes.
Finally the safety spot. The Hawkeyes will say bye to Tanner Miller after he graduated. Nico Law and Anthony Gair look like the guys that could step in for the 6’2″ Miller. Law saw some time a couple years ago, but played mostly behind John Lowdermilk this past season. Iowa also brought in a saftey, Jyaz Jones, who, at 6’1″ 180 pounds would need to tack on some body mass if he wants to contribute right away.
While I don’t see Jones filling the void as a true freshman, it should be Law who enters into that equation.
This honestly isn’t going to be the easiest thing for coach Ferentz and his coaching staff. Especially having to replace the linebacking core. If Iowa can replace the three linebacker spots, they’ll set themselves for success.
With a favorable schedule next year, the Hawkeyes might not have to be as sharp, but they’ll have to get better as the season progresses and that’s something that most Kirk Ferentz coached teams do.