IOWA CITY, Iowa - Jordan Lomax has experienced his share of disappointment as an Iowa football player. The junior embarked on camp this month ready for fun.
Lomax moved from cornerback to free safety during December's Outback Bowl prep. The Washington, D.C. product emerged from spring ball as the starter and remained at the top of the depth chart through Saturday's Kids Day at Kinnick Stadium.
"The transition has been beautiful. I love it back there," the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder said. "Spring ball helped me get those 15 practices under my belt. I started getting my feet in the water.
"Now we come to camp and we're two weeks in and I feel a lot more comfortable at the position. I feel like I'm ready. There's still a lot of film study that I need to go in and do that will help me prepare for the first game (Aug. 30 against UNI)."
Lomax opened the 2013 season as a starting cornerback. It came after he missed the previous campaign following shoulder surgery. He had played as a true freshman in '11.
Lomax's dream of replacing the departed Micah Hyde last fall was derailed when he injured his hamstring in a Week 1 loss to Northern Illinois. It knocked him out of the lineup for several games. When he returned, true freshman Desmond King had captured the job.
Lomax's health gradually improved last season and he was used on special teams and in nickel and dime packages. When the Hawkeyes hit practice for their bowl, the coaches thought about ways to get him on the field more.
"I guess with my grades in school, I'm kind of smart, and being a free safety back there you've got to be able to think on top of your toes. They realized that I was a tough, physical corner so they came and made a pitch to me that maybe I could try to move to free safety. At free safety, who have to be tough. You have to hit people. You have to know what checks to make when the offense is doing its motions. They said it's a big thinking process and I'd be a good person for the job," Lomax said.
"I think he's coming right along," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He's not the most vocal guy, naturally, but I think he's doing a good job with that. He works at it really hard and he's had a really good camp. He was a starter last year at this time but had that injury but we're real pleased with the way he's coming along."
Lomax was listed as a safety coming out of DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, MD. Scout.com ranked him No. 105 nationally at the position in the '11 recruiting class. He chose the Hawkeyes ahead of reported scholarship offers from Louisville, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Virginia, among others.
Lomax played in 11 games as a true freshman, recording seven tackles, mostly on special teams. Last season, he posted five stops, including one for loss, which came in the opener.
"Corner is pretty much one on one. You can look to the safety for the call. Now that I'm in the safety position, I have to help my corner out if he doesn't get the call. Then the offense makes the motion then I might have to tell him what to do. Then I have to make sure I'm on the right page with the other safety and corner. It's a process," Lomax said.
After the Outback Bowl, Miller watched film with Lomax , who also viewed film of Miller on his own. Then, he popped in action footage of another former Hawkeye at his new position.
"I watched film on Sean Considine, who was a great free safety here. His ability to study film and to know what the offense was about the run before the play even started was tremendous and I have the utmost respect for him," Lomax said.
In addition to Lomax stepping in for Miller, Iowa is replacing departed first-team all-Big Ten cornerback B.J. Lowery. Sean Draper, Maurice Fleming and Greg Mabin are locked in a dead heat, Ferentz said Saturday. Johnny Lowdermilk returns for a third season as the starting strong safety.
"The secondary is coming along real well. We continue to compete with one another. It brings us closer together. The first four that are called out for the first game to start, we just want to support them and just let them know at the end of the day we're still a family. We're always cheering each other on. We've become a close knit unit and we're all starting to really know the defense. So instead of Coach (Phil) Parker having four DBs, he has eight DBs. We're trying to get it to the point where there are 12 DBs that can go out there and play if somebody has an injury," Lomax said.