Iowa football: 3 best safeties 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 safeties this season. Who are the top 3 the Hawkeyes will see?

The Iowa football team has produced several NFL prospects at the safety position in recent years with Amani Hooker being the most notable. Hooker tallied 65 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 interceptions, and 7 pass deflections for which he was recognized as the Big Ten’s Defensive Back of the Year last season.

The Hawkeyes will be replacing both safeties, but thankfully Geno Stone got a good look last season as he started 8 games for the Iowa football team. Stone recorded 4 interceptions and could be the next great safety at Iowa. While it’s important to understand what the Hawks have in place, we also need to know their counterparts. Let’s look at the three best safeties Nate Stanley and the Iowa passing game will have to face this season.

3. JR Pace, Northwestern

The junior from College Park, Georgia was three-star recruit that went relatively unrecruited aside from the Wildcats, Boston College, and Appalachian State. However, he has been excellent in Pat Fitzgerald‘s defense. As a sophomore, Pace tallied 82 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions and 7 pass deflections. The interceptions and pass breakups are incredible alone but adding in 80+ tackles and that just spells trouble for opposing teams.

Although he had a relatively quiet game against Iowa in 2018, (7 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss), Pace is one of most menacing safeties not only in the Big Ten but in the country. He made several plays in big games including a 26-yard pick-six in the opener against Purdue in 2018.

2. Josh Metellus, Michigan

Somehow Metellus went unrecruited by his hometown team in the Miami Hurricanes. He had interest from Florida International but that was really it in terms of Florida schools. It’s a shame because he has become a star at Michigan. As a junior, Metellus started in 12 games at the safety position and recorded 47 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 5 pass deflections.

His interceptions yards (104) were second in the Big Ten and was named to the First-Team All-Big Ten team. He’s a hard-hitting safety but that went against him as he was ejected in the game against Notre Dame. Metellus earned the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Maryland and Wisconsin in which he recorded a combined 9 tackles and 1 interception. Iowa has yet to see him but he’s going to be a handful in this matchup.

1. Reed Blankenship, Middle Tennessee State

Don’t let the small school deter you from needing to be aware of Blankenship. The converted cornerback found tremendous success at the safety position for the Blue Raiders in 2018. He tallied an incredible 107 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 interceptions, and 7 pass deflections. He is in a word, a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. He played in all 13 games last season, with 12 starts, and was named to the First-Team All-Conference-USA.

Problems brewing at the safety position. dark. Next

Blankenship has already been named to the Jim Thorpe Aware Watch list as well as the Bednarik Watch list. He’s still recovering from off-season surgery but he should be a go for the season opener. Watch for him to have a huge impact in what is supposed to be a cakewalk for the Hawkeyes.