A look at some of the highlights at Iowa’s media day
Iowa is coming off a perfect 12-0 regular season that ended with a heartbreaking loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game and an embarrassing performance in the Rose Bowl against Stanford. Coming off that historic season, the buzz around the Hawkeyes on Tuesday was a lot different than a year ago.
Kirk Ferentz is now being viewed in a different way, Desmond King and C.J. Beathard are now household names, and Josey Jewell became the first Iowa junior to attend media day. In fact, the whole football program was respected a little more, despite coming off their fourth consecutive bowl game loss.
Although, there was bigger news than what happened last season. Ferentz told the media that wide receiver Jonathan Parker will miss 6-8 weeks with a foot injury. Parker didn’t record a reception last season but the receiver position is extremely thin and Parker was entering the season as Matt VandeBerg‘s backup.
Kirk Ferentz praised the graduated seniors, as well, and noted that there will be a lot of new challenges this season. Although, with C.J. Beathard and Desmond King being named to the Big Ten Preseason honors list, Ferentz should still feel fairly confident heading into next season.
When asked about replicating their 12-0 regular season from a year ago, Ferentz said, “It’s the first time I’ve been involved in an undefeated season. We’ve had some good football teams historically. It’s very tough to go undefeated, a lot of things have to go your way. You have to have a good football team to start with, and you have to be fortunate injury-wise, even though we really didn’t fit that category well last year. … We want to win every game, just like every team does. That’s our goal, and it comes back to taking care of what you can take care of.”
Then the Hawkeyes head coach was hammered with questions about his team, particularly his star players.
As previously noted, Jewell was the first Iowa junior to attend media day. After becoming a captain as a sophomore last season, Ferentz and the coaching staff felt it was only right that he was brought to Chicago.
Ferentz told the media, “Our staff was basically unanimous with Josey so I took it into a staff meeting and what I concluded was fairly obvious. He was the first sophomore captain that we’ve ever had, and that’s selected by his teammates, and he was an overwhelming choice last December. So, it was common sense to bring him here.”
Josey led the team with 126 total tackles last season and should be in store for another big season. Being a part of media day speaks extremely highly of his character and play, as in Ferentz’s 18 years he’s the first non-senior the Hawkeyes coaching staff has chosen.
It was easy to see that Josey was genuinely honored to have this opportunity as a junior. He told BTN, “It’s truly a privilege for me to be here and I’m truly honored that all the coaches selected me. It feels awesome to be here with these guys and to represent the University of Iowa.”
Ferentz was also asked about Desmond King’s decision to return for his senior season, and surprisingly, he didn’t feel it was that hard of a choice for King. Although, it’s easier to say that now after the potential top-10 pick opted towards staying for his senior season.
Ferentz outlined what he told King, “Personally I don’t think it’s tough at all. I told Desmond basically the same thing that I told Brandon Scherff. There are very few times in life that you can do what you want to do … What I told both players was I was pretty confident that when they’re 26 or 27 they’d be really good football players and be contributing on any team they were on.”
Scherff started all 16 games for the Washington Redskins as a rookie last season after playing four seasons with Iowa and being drafted fifth overall. Barring a major injury, King has a chance to be drafted that high, as well. The Jim Thorpe award winner is viewed as the best defensive back in the nation by many. Therefore, King chose to do what he set out to do when he came to Iowa – earn a degree.
Desmond King showed his maturity and intelligence when asked the same question. He obviously knew that question was going to be asked, but he still responded perfectly, “Teammates, family and my education. Those were the three things that I built my decision on. Coming back to school and getting my degree is something no one can take from you, and my thought was, what am I going to do life after football? And I didn’t want to leave my bond with my brothers [teammates].”
When the three Hawkeyes were asked about last season, Josey Jewell and C.J. Beathard both agreed that their 10-6 win over Wisconsin in week five was when they realized they could put together something special. King added, “More leaders just started evolving and it kind of pressured the underclassmen to come along with them and hop onboard, and become leaders as well.”
Beathard also talked about how they can stay in the same mindset as last year where they’re hungry to get better and win. He told BTN, “Coach Ferentz does a good job preaching to us that we can’t listen to the outside noise. We could’ve listened to it last season. … As we started winning games and you start hearing more talk about people saying this or that. If you listen to that stuff it’ll just mess with you.”
When it came to the media voting on awards, Iowa did fairly well. Iowa was the media’s pick to win the Big Ten West Division for the second consecutive season. In the player survey, Iowa’s road locker room was voted as the best, they go two votes as the favorites to win the Big Ten, although, sadly, Herky got no votes for being the best mascot.
Iowa will start their season against Miami (OH) on September 3 at Kinnick Stadium.