IOWA CITY, Iowa - My first Iowa media day was Hayden Fry's last. That was 1998. I've been to every one since then.
Monday was No. 16 for Kirk Ferentz as head coach. So, I beat him by one, although he attended nine as an Hawkeye assistant in the '80s.
I don't bring this up to brag. If anything, it just dates me and gives people a better understanding of why the pepper in my hair is being overtaken by the salt.
I do feel like I have a pretty good lay of the land. And, it's too chaotic to report on everything.
This year I went to the event without a real plan, kind of like how I live my life. I just observed the goings on and interviewed who I felt fans would be interested in hearing from.
I'll be able to bring you feature stories on these players throughout the month while they're locked up in camp. But for today, I can hit the finer points of the interviews and also try to take you inside what I saw and heard today.
So, away we go:
-When I arrived at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for Ferentz's press conference, the room was packed. That was about 20 minutes before it started. I spoke to a few of the veteran reporters and they agree that there were more media in attendance Tuesday than we'd seen in a while.
Why? Well, the term "media" is much broader than it was a decade ago. The internet has changed that a lot.
A lot of in-state players on the roster also affects the turnout. Small town papers and radio stations come to Iowa City looking to shine the spotlight on the hometown kid.
Mostly, I think it's the high expectations for the team after last season's resurgence.
Anyway, it was good to see a full room. It's a Hawkeye State.
-Ferentz covered a lot of the same topics he did last week in Chicago and then again during the carwash on the four-letter network.
…The coaches have talked about carving out a role for back-up quarterback C.J. Beathard. They don't know what that would be and Ferentz said it only will happen if it provides them a competitive advantage. I got the sense that it's not real close to happening right now, not a high priority and I wouldn't hold my breath if it's something as a fan you hopes happens.
…The coaches are trying to figure out a way to lighten Mark Weisman's load to keep him fresh for the fourth quarter of games and the fourth quarter of the season, Ferentz said. Running backs coach Chris White said they do that by spreading out the carries more earlier in games. It sounds like Jordan Canzeri will see the ball quite a bit and Damon Bullock, at the very least, will be used on third downs. I'm just not sure where LeShun Daniels fits in this equation.
…Ferentz said that senior left tackle Brandon Scherff has a chance to be one of the best players the programs has ever produced. That's real high praise from a coach that throws around strong comments like that like manhole covers.
…Ferentz said he's looking at a tight end by committee situation. He said that Ray Hamilton is probably better than they think and will flourish once given the chance to be the main guy.
…Ferentz said that the hype surrounding redshirt freshman wide receiver Derrick Willies has not gone to his head. After talking to the kid, I agree. More on that later.
…When asked who is field goal kicker was, Ferentz said he had no idea.
…Jake Rudock is the clear starting quarterback, Ferentz said, and he doesn't see that changing.
After meeting with Ferentz, we hit the practice field for interviews with the assistant coaches and players.
-It's always interesting to see which guys receive the most attention beyond the "stars." The winners on Monday were Willies and Reggie Spearman. Both received an initial surge of reporters and the steady continued throughout the session.
-Sean Welsh is a really well spoken young man who has his spot at the top of the depth chart in perspective. He's going to have to rely a lot on technique because he still needs to develop physically.
-Damon Powell was the first player out. He was vague about his injury and his return date. He said he's just going to listen to the doctors and did not place a time table on when he'll be back to full speed. He said he's in therapy now and feels like his health is improving. The hernia was in his groin. Ouch.
-I had a really nice talk with Daniels. We discussed his brother committing and his role in that process. I'll have a story on that at a later date. The funniest thing he said was that James made him wait until the announcement.
-Ike Boettger is a big boy. He told me he has a long way to go in his development as a lineman but he feels like he's on the right path.
-Jaleel Johnson might not have a large role playing behind Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat, but he really has worked hard on his body. He looked unblockable throughout the spring game. He told me he's learned a lot from Davis and feels like this is a big year for him.
-Dillon Kidd feels like the punter's job is up in the air. He said the coaches told him when they were recruiting him that it would be an open competition throughout camp. He said the spring reps would split up pretty evenly.
-Marshall Koehn feels like he has a leg up (pun intended) in the battle at kicker but is not taking anything for granted. He said true freshman Mick Ellis arrived on campus in the early summer and as looked good. The third candidate for the job is walk-on Miguel Recinos from Mason City.
Jason Miller joined me at media day and shot a lot of interviews as well. I will add interesting tidbits to this piece as I go through them.