May Daze: Defensive Backs

During the long May days sans football, HI takes a look ahead at the Hawkeyes, 2012. First stop is the defensive backfield.

May is notoriously the slowest month for fans of college football. Spring ball is done. Summer workouts haven't begun. Incoming freshmen have yet to arrive.

It's a "May Daze."

There's no sense sitting around and moping about it. You can only perform so much yard work. Let's take a look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, position-by-position, and create some discussion.

First up, the defensive backfield:

  • MOST INDISPENSABLE:
  • If Shaun Prater would have declared early for the NFL Draft like his secondary counterpart, Tyler Sash, did, Iowa would have been replacing three fourths of its defensive backfield. And you could argue that Prater would have been harder to replace than it will be to find another strong safety like Sash.

    I really expect Prater to take the step forward that so many Hawkeyes have as seniors. He'll overcome inconsistency and become a leader on an inexperienced defense.

  • TOP BREAKOUT CANDIDATE:
  • For me, this comes down to two guys - Tanner Miller and B.J. Lowery. The true sophomores are hoping to crack the starting lineup and it's likely a matter of which one emerges.

    Micah Hyde is the key here. If he stays at cornerback, Lowery will be relegated to nickel and dime packages. If he moves to free safety, Miller is the odd man out.

    Hyde played safety in the spring. But the Iowa coaches said they wanted to get a look at him there and for him to better understand the defense. It wasn't necessarily a permanent move.

    Miller contributed a respectable effort in the Insight Bowl when replacing starter Brett Greenwood at free. Coordinator Norm Parker alluded last month to Miller being a factor at that position this season.

    I'm going with Miller for that reason and also the fact that Lowery still would have to beat out Greg Castillo if Hyde moved to safety.

  • TOP NEWCOMER:
  • Or, which freshman, true or redshirt, might impact the position?

    Again, I'm torn between two guys - Torrey Campbell and Nico Law. I believe both guys will be impact players at Iowa, but it comes down to opportunity.

    With Prater, Hyde, Lowery and Castillo all experienced players at corner, I think it will be hard for Campbell to find minutes. The safety positions, especially strong, are fairly wide open.

    Law is the pick. I could see he and Campbell chipping in on special teams as well.

  • THE WILDCARD:
  • Jordan Bernstine arrived at Iowa with a lot of prep credentials. Injuries and ineffectiveness have kept him from living up to that potential.

    Bernstine is a fifth-year senior in 2011. There's no tomorrow.

    The Des Moines native showed well in spot duty during the Insight Bowl. He delivered a couple of strong hits.

    Bernstine has flipped between corner and safety during his career, but my guess is he gets a good look at strong safety this camp. If he can stay healthy, a big if to this point, he could fill a big need and become a real nice story.


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