There is no question that the edges of the defensive line are both questionable and intriguing for the Iowa Hawkeyes as they make their way through fall camp and into the regular season. They graduated both Nate Meier and Drew Ott, who played sparingly due to a few injuries over the course of his senior season.
The man who replaced him, Parker Hesse, did well in the role and could be primed for a breakout season in 2016.
Hesse, who was just a redshirt freshman last season, figured to factor in a bit in a backup role last season for the Hawkeyes. Iowa was set at defensive end with two very experienced players in Meier and Ott, but when things didn't go as planned, Hesse was thrust into a starting role for eight of the 14 games he appeared in.
Hesse racked up 44 total tackles for Iowa over the course of the season, along with two sacks of the quarterback. His freshman regular season was capped off by probably his best game of the year at Nebraska when he picked off Tommy Armstrong just outside Nebraska's own 10 yard line and took it into the end zone for the score.
Hesse also totaled five total tackles in two postseason games that didn't go as planned for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
He enters his sophomore season as the most experienced edge rusher for the Hawkeyes. He'll be opposite Matt Nelson, who also played sparingly last season, recording 14 tackles. Anthony Nelson will also factor in on the edges, but did redshirt last season so he has no game experience at all. However, at 6'7" and 250 pounds, he'll have somewhat of an impact on the defensive line.
I picked Hesse as one of my breakout candidates because I saw enough of him last year that told me he could be a solid edge rusher for the Hawkeyes. He isn't the most athletic kid, but was moved from linebacker to defensive end when he arrived in Iowa City, so he still has the instincts of a linebacker. He's a smart player and honestly reminds me a lot of Meier, who he played opposite of last season.
He's going to work and work and keep on working. I can see Hesse as a relentless pass rusher for the Hawkeyes this season.
With experienced defensive tackles like Jaleel Johnson and Nathan Bazata on the interior, Hesse will see a lot of one on one match ups, which should be beneficial for him.
I have four players in front of him on my breakout candidate list, but Parker Hesse will be a big one to look out for this fall.