Iowa Football has a ton of returning talent on the offensive end but did lose a first-rounder on the offensive line and a three-year starter. Filling those voids will be no easy task, but these 5 Hawkeyes could breakout as stars in 2020.
5. Mark Kallenberger
With Tristan Wirfs moving on from Iowa City and instead of blocking for the greatest quarterback of All-Time in Tampa, it obviously leaves a huge hole in the offensive line. And Kallenberger is my pick to be the guy who steps up in his absence. If Kallenberger takes a big step forward in his redshirt junior season, it could change the outlook of Iowa football this season.
Last year, Kallenberger saw action in 12 games, starting five of them (four at right guard and one at left guard). He will be in the mix at both left and right guard or could potentially move out to tackle after backing up Alaric Jackson previously during his time as a Hawkeye.
Filling the hole left by Wirfs will be no easy task. But if Kallenberger can take a step forward combined with grad transfer Coy Cronk now on the roster, the Hawkeye o-line will be just fine.
I think Kallenberger wins a spot on the offensive line and builds off a solid bowl game in Iowa’s offensive explosion against USC, a game where Kallenberger played every snap.
4. Oliver Martin
Probably been a little while since you heard this name. And that’s because Oliver Martin’s triumphant return hasn’t panned out. Yet.
Oliver Martin is the best wide receiver in the history of Iowa high school football. He has the most receptions, yards, and touchdowns. But, we barely saw him last year? The reasoning behind that is unclear but there were some rumors of nagging injuries.
He caught 5 passes for 28 yards and a touchdown in limited action but he still has a chance to become a star at Iowa. If he can get healthy this year, don’t be surprised to see more of the hometown kid this season.
3. Tyler Goodson
I’m not even sure if Tyler Goodson belongs on this list, maybe he belongs on the list of guys who broke out last year. I don’t consider it a breakout season because I think he can be even better. After a successful campaign as a true freshman last season, Tyler Goodson played a huge role in the Hawkeyes offensive success, especially late in the season.
Goodson was the Hawkeyes leading rusher last season, totaling 638 yards and 5 touchdowns while averaging just under 5 yards a carry. He can catch it out of the backfield as we saw glimpses of last season when he caught 24 passes for another 166 yards. But, his pass protection struggled early in the season which assumedly kept him off the field. What did Goodson do? Worked on it, and the results showed as he improved his pass protection exponentially as the season went on.
By the end of the season, the choice was clear. Tyler Goodson was the future at running back for the Hawkeyes. He started the last four games of the season and scored a touchdown in each of them. Assuming a full season as the starter, who knows what Goodson’s numbers could be next year? The sky is the limit.
If last season wasn’t considered a breakout season, this one will be. Hard not to be excited about the future of this kid wearing the black and gold.
2. Sam Laporta
I actually did a Twitter Thread on LaPorta earlier this year if you want more details on what has me excited about this kid.
To sum it up, he’s a stud. It isn’t insane to think this kid could be on the level of Hock and Kittle in just a few years. But he is really that good.
LaPorta only caught 15 passes for 188 yards last year after seeing action in 12 games. If I was a gambling man, I would bet he at least doubles those numbers this year. LaPorta barely saw the field in the opening weeks and it looked as if he would redshirt but a necessity for well-rounded tight end forced the Hawkeyes to pull it. I think the coaching staff is happy with that decision.
LaPorta made his first catch of his career against Northwestern, then had a catch in each of the Hawkeyes’ last 6 games, including a career-high 6 catches against USC in the Holiday Bowl. As he became more comfortable at the D-1 level, he just kept making plays.
Similar to Goodson, LaPorta’s usage increased tenfold toward the end of the season and both guys made the most of it.
Hard runner, good hands, gets upfield quickly, his blocking is improving, LaPorta can do anything you’d ask for out of the tight end. LaPorta is nearly a lock to be the starting tight end on opening day and after an offseason of practicing with the 1st team? Who knows how good this kid can be next year?
Last year we saw the potential, and I think this is the year it comes to fruition.
1. Spencer Petras
After beating out Peyton Mansell for the backup job last season, the Cali kid will take the reigns of the Hawkeye offense this year. Petras was a SUPERSTAR in high school.
Petras went to the same high school as Jared Goff and broke almost all of Goff’s school records at Marian Catholic. That same Jared Goff went on to play at Cal, was the number one pick in the NFL draft, has played in a Super Bowl, and is one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL. So, to say this kid should have Hawkeye fans excited is an understatement.
Petras is big and tall, has a huge arm but the most impressive part of his game to me is his touch. The only glaring issue for Petras is his inexperience, he has thrown just 11 passes in his college career. However, the Hawkeyes have more than enough weapons to make him feel comfortable and both Stanley and the coaching staff both raved about his ability to make every throw the offense asks.