May Daze: Tight End

During the long May days sans football, HI takes a look ahead at the Hawkeyes, 2012. Up next is tight end.

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.

Here are the previous installments in this series:

Defensive Backs

Linebackers

D-Line

O-Line

Wide Receiver

Next up, the Tight End:

  • MOST INDISPENSABLE:
  • It has to be Brad Herman, for no other reason that he's the only proven commodity. In saying that, we don't know it he's ready to be the No. 1 guy here.

    We can compare the situation to Allen Reisner's from last season, but the Marion native had more reps and experience under his belt.

    Herman is an athletic pass receiver who is improving as a blocker. There is evidence that he will take the next step when you look at guys like Brandon Myers and Reisner, who really blossomed in their senior seasons.

    Herman has caught 10 passes in his Iowa career, nine of which came last season to go with 154 yards. The Illinois native also excelled at linebacker in high school and played as a true freshman for the Hawkeyes.

    With how Iowa uses it's tight end, there might not be a player on the 2011 Hawkeyes that needs to step up more than Herman.

  • TOP BREAKOUT:
  • C.J. Fiedorowicz came to Iowa with a lot of fan fare. He ranked as one of the top players in the nation at his position. He committed to in-state Illinois before switching the the Hawkeyes and seeing action as a true freshman in '10.

    Fiedorowicz mostly contributed on special teams in year one. He clearly sat behind Reisner and Herman and probably saw fewer reps than walk-on, Zach Derby. He caught one pass for four yards.

    With Reisner gone, Fiedorowicz will be given the opportunity to move into the No. 2 spot. The Hawkeyes often employ two tight end sets, so that means a role like Herman filled last season.

    The transition from high school to college has been a little harder than Fiedorowicz anticipated. Having mostly played wide receiver at Johnsburg (Ill.) High, playing with his hand down and blocking has been an eye-opening experience.

    Physically, Fiedorowicz is prepared. He just needs to work on the technique with his 6-foot-7, 250-pound frame. He possesses good route running skills and soft hands.

  • TOP NEWCOMER:
  • Tight end is one position where Iowa plays true freshmen. Myers, Reisner, Herman, Fiedorowicz, Tony Moeaki and Scott Chandler (although he played WR in his first year) all are examples to that point.

    I see incoming freshman Ray Hamilton following in their footsteps this season. The Ohio native is a heck of an athlete and the Hawkeyes need to build depth at the position.

    Hamilton also is part of a three-tight-end class that Iowa would like to stagger. He also can help on special teams.

    Hamilton didn't come out of high school with the same recruiting rankings power of Fiedorowicz, but he's the more polished of the two at that stage. He also features a nasty streak that could help him transition to the physical play needed in the Big Ten.

  • THE WILDCARD:
  • He's the much less heralded of the Derby brother tandem in the roster, but Zach Derby has taken advantage of his preferred walk-on opportunity at Iowa. The older brother of redshirt freshman quarterback A.J. Derby only caught one pass for 17 yards last season, but he knew how to block and that got him more reps than Fiedorowicz last season.

    Zach Derby, whose father John played linebacker at Iowa, reminds me of some of the invaluable blocking tight ends in the Kirk Ferentz era. Erik Jensen, Tony Jackson and Mike Follett come to mind.

    Derby was a multiple-sport athlete at Iowa City, City High. At 6-3, 235 pounds, he also has shown outstanding aptitude on special teams.

    While Fiedorowicz likely will get the first and longest look at the No. 2 spot behind Herman, Derby won't concede the spot. He'll be willing to step in should anyone in front of him on the depth chart falter and he probably will see reps in short-yardage sets. He'll fill a role at the very least.


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