Five Iowa football players are out for spring football with injuries while one chose not to pursue a fifth year of eligibility. Starters James Daniels, Ben Niemann, and Greg Mabin will be out and they are not on the depth chart. Key reserves Derrick Mitchell and Josh Jackson will also be sidelined with injuries. Kyle Terlouw got time at defensive tackle a year ago but has chosen to end his football career.
Who are the replacements? Well, the offensive line is a bit of a mix and match deal right now that includes Sean Welsh getting some time at center. Bo Bower steps in for Ben Niemann for now which will allow some time for Nick Wilson and Angelo Garbutt in reserve roles. Maurice Fleming becomes the guy at cornerback for Greg Mabin and so that means more two-deep time for Michael Ojemudia, especially with Jackson out.
OFFENSIVE LINE JUMBLE
Last season ended with Cole Croston and Ike Boettger as the left and right tackles because of all the injuries that occurred throughout the year. Boone Myers now moves to left guard. However, with James Daniels out, the center and right guard at the moment is Sean Welsh. For fall camp, Daniels will be center and Welsh at right guard but they're giving someone else the reps there now should they run into trouble later on. Welsh and Steve Ferentz are splitting the duties at center. Welsh is the primary right guard. This just tells me they haven't zeroed in on a backup for Daniels just yet.
Last year they wanted seven linemen to be ready which was the reason why Daniels and Croston were pushed hard and broke into the lineups and were ready when called. They'll look for the same this year after the regular five of Croston, Myers, Daniels, Welsh, and Boettger. According to the two-deep, the candidates are Keegan Render, Brett Waechter, Steve Ferentz, Dalton Ferguson, and Ryan Ward.
Waechter broke into the two-deep during Rose Bowl practice some even though he was being redshirted. I'd bet on him for one slot. Either way there is flexibility to this group with Myers being able to go inside and out, and Welsh and Daniels playing a variety of positions across the line.
There's some familiar faces but not a lot of experience. The one constant is Matt VandeBerg. We know he gobbles up one spot and Jerminic Smith will man the position vacated by Tevaun Smith. Right now, Riley McCarron is slotted to replace Jacob Hillyer but a part of me still thinks he stays where he was a year ago as the fourth guy. They'll play five like they did a year ago most likely. Adrian Falconer will play but can he grab the third spot? Jonathan Parker and Jay Scheel are also in the two-deep. That's six guys with likely five spots available. Four are decided in all probability with VandeBerg, Falconer, Jerminic, and McCarron. The fifth spot seems to be a battle between Parker and Scheel with a starting job likely up for grabs. I think this is crunch time for either Adrian Falconer or Jay Scheel to emerge.
NO SURPRISES ON DEFENSE
There's omissions on defense because of injuries but it's about what you'd expect. With Ott's status still in limbo, the ends are Matt Nelson and Parker Hesse. The tackles are Jaleel Johnson and Nathan Bazata. The corner is Desmond King and Greg Mabin is out. The safeties are Miles Taylor and Brandon Snyder. Linebacker is a little trickier. Niemann is out so Bo Bower is in. The other spot vacated by Cole Fisher is up for grabs between Jack Hockaday and Aaron Mends with Mends listed as the starter currently. That is exactly what we thought we'd see.
With only one true job up for grabs I think Aaron Mends grabs the starting role while Hockaday plays a lot. I do think they like Angelo Garbutt a lot and he'll be in the two-deep behind Josey Jewell.
There was a big offensive line class in 2015 that consisted of James Daniels, the Paulsen twins, Jacob Newborg, and Brett Waechter. Daniels broke in right away but another has jumped into the two-deep now in Brett Waechter. I think they have high expectations for Waechter as we saw him take some meaningful reps as a redshirt during the Rose Bowl practice week. He's now in the two-deep. If there's one young guy to keep an eye on in making a big move this offseason and 2016 regular season, my money is on Waechter. With Croston being a senior this upcoming season, Waechter is likely next in line.