Iowa CITY, Iowa - It's rare that a recruit says he'd like to red shirt as a true freshman. Some of them see the value in it. Most can't stand the thought of being away from the lights of game day.
Incoming Iowa guys could hear the roar of the crowd in Year 1. The Hawkeyes played 10 true freshmen in 2011 after utilizing 8 of them the year before.
The youth movement is something that took some getting used to head coach Kirk Ferentz. Entering his 14th season as head Hawkeye, he hung on to redshirt-and-develop-the-athlete philosophy after some other coaches abandoned it in favor of the no-need-wait theory. He's come around.
Here's a year-by-year look at who played as true freshmen for Ferentz:
2001 (1) - Matt Roth.
2002 (2) - Clinton Solomon, Jovon Johnson.
During his eight seasons, Ferentz played 28 true freshmen for a rate of 3.5 per year. Thirty seven first-year freshmen were used in the last five campaigns for an average of 7.4. In the last two seasons, there have been 18 or 9.0 per year.
Another thing to remember is that the 18 guys used during the last two years mostly contributed on special teams. Coker and Morris were the only regulars.
One could anticipate Iowa dropping to a low number of true freshmen used this season based on Iowa '07-'09 picture. The Hawkeyes used 16 first-year players total in the first two years of that stretch. In Year 3, they employed only three true freshmen.
Don't bet on it. The national approach is to play kids early. Iowa will be on board with it most seasons. Plus, this isn't the 2009 Hawkeyes.
It's not easy to figure out in which way Iowa will go this season in terms of using incoming players. Position of need plays into the decision, but it also could just be someone who stands out on special teams at practice. Few people saw Johnny Lowdermilk entering the picture in '11.
Here's a stab at a few predictions:
My Sleeper - Tevaun Smith.