Iowa football: 3 best linebackers Hawks will face in 2019

(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) /

Kirk Ferentz’ 2019 Iowa football squad will be facing several good linebackers this season. Who are the top 3 the Hawkeyes will see?

The Iowa football team has recently been able to take advantage of their mismatch at the tight end position to overcome solid linebacker play but that could all change this season with the loss of both Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. Shaun Beyer, Nate Wieting, and Drew Cook all figure to get a look at the tight end position but only time will tell if they can replicate the production from Fant and Hockenson.

Unfortunately, they’ll have to try to do so against some stiff competition from opposing linebackers. The football Iowa team shouldn’t be any stranger to having good linebackers, especially with names like Josey Jewell, James Morris, Ben Niemann, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey all within the last several years. Let’s take a look at the three best linebackers Iowa will see this season.

3. Markus Bailey, Purdue

The fifth-year senior from Columbus, Ohio has gotten better every year during his time in West Lafayette. In 2018, he recorded 115 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble. He started in all 13 games for the Boilermakers in 2018 and not only led the team in tackles but recorded 82 solo stops on the year as well.

He didn’t make a whole lot of noise in the game against the Iowa football team last season, recording just 8 tackles which was arguably his worst game of the year. I’d expect that to change in 2019 without having to account for Fant or Hockenson in this matchup.

2. Mike Rose, Iowa State

Rose came to Ames as a three-star recruit from Brecksville, Ohio and ranked as the 55th best outside linebacker. He emerged from the pack heading into fall camp as the team looked to replace the production from Joel Lanning. At the time, Rose was just a 212-pound true freshman but he didn’t let that stop him from having a monster year.

In 2018, Rose recorded 75 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown. He’s bulked up to 240 pounds to endure the grind of a full season and could be a nightmare for Iowa. The first-team freshman All-American (FWAA & The Athletic) will be looking to put up gaudy numbers in 2019.

1. Paddy Fisher, Northwestern

Fisher has been a force for Pat Fitzgerald‘s defense in his first two seasons. As a true freshman, he recorded 111 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 4 forced fumbles. Last season, he made 116 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 4 forced fumbles. Fisher is a turnover machine but had a fairly quiet game against the Hawkeyes last season.

In what ended up being the Big Ten West clincher, Fisher recorded just 8 total tackles and 0.5 tackle for loss. He can string together games of producing double-digit tackles as seen in 2018 when he accomplished that feat 5 times.

Next. 3 best tight ends Hawks will face in 2019. dark

Fisher was somewhat disrespected by the national media, being named to the AP All-America Third Team. Look for that to put a chip on his shoulder this season, especially when the Hawkeyes travel to Evanston.