The special teams unit had its share of ups and down in 2018. The punting game was absolutely atrocious but the kick return game was one of the best in the nation, and it was a large reason why Smith-Marsette won the 2018 Rodgers-Dwight Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year.
The kicking game was solid with Miguel Recinos hitting 17 of 22 field goal attempts, but he graduated, which means we may be seeing a familiar face return to the field for the Hawks.
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette – Smith-Marsette is the most electrifying returner the Hawks have had since Tim Dwight so it only makes sense that he should man both roles heading into this season.
- Devontae Young – The senior defensive back is likely the next in line for return duties. Last season, he returned two kicks for 42 yards.
- Keith Duncan – Duncan has had quite the roller coaster ride in his Iowa football career. As a freshman, he was successful on 38 of 39 extra point attempts and 8 of 11 field goal attempts but lost his job the following season to Miguel Recinos. Two seasons later, with Recinos out of the picture, it’s Duncan’s time to shine.
- Caleb Shudak – Shudak should be slated to be the back up as of right now but keep an eye on walk-on kicker Lucas Amaya, who has a cannon of a leg.
- Michael Sleep-Dalton – It’s not often people get excited about scholarship punters, but I am stoked for this graduate transfer’s arrival. He was 26th in the nation in punting average (43.8 yards per punt) this past season booting the ball for Arizona State, and I am hoping he brings some life back to our dismal punting game from 2018.
- Colten Rastetter – Last year’s starting punter, Rastetter consistently put the Hawkeye’s defense in a bad spot with his inability to pin teams back in their own territory. As a senior, he will likely be the emergency back up in case Sleep-Dalton goes down.
Hopefully soon, the Iowa football team will be listing their initial depth chart, but a lot can change between spring and summer practices that can move guys up and down plus there may be another graduate transfer or JUCO transfer (just like Mekhi Sargent last year) in the mix later on this year.