Spring Practice in Full Swing

With Iowa having a semi-closed practice this past Saturday, many high school coaches were able to get a look at the action taking place on the field. Though it's very early in spring ball, there were a few players that stood out for their precision and prowess.

After speaking with a few high school coaches and other ‘trained eye' observers that attended Saturday's Iowa football practices, here are some consensus observations.

Please keep in mind that practice began on Wednesday and things are still very early and not at full speed.

Scott Chandler and Tony Moeaki looked solid. The roster tells us that each player packed on more than 10 pounds since the Outback Bowl media guide listing, and it was evident. Moeaki has passed the eye test since he arrived on campus, while Chandler has always looked a bit lanky. But Chandler is now approaching 260 pounds and is looking more and more like a tight end, but he still has the route running and receiving skills that made him a big part of Iowa's offense last year. Both of those players on the field at the same time in a one back set (meaning two wide outs) would be a lot of fun to watch; Moeaki is a good blocker at his young age, and Chandler's added bulk will help him in that department, giving Iowa some student body left and right options. OR, send both out into routes. I think there will be a lot of ‘pick your poison' for opposing DC's next year.

Drew Tate also looked very good on Saturday. One person told me that his footwork is flawless, and that is what makes him what he has been at Iowa. He has the discipline of landing his lead foot on his toe, as opposed to his heal, which makes him accurate. Jake Christensen has impressed in his first off season. He also ran with the second team offensive line on Saturday, a fact that did not help him with regards to space and passing lanes.

Iowa's defensive front four, or rather, front six or seven, depending on the rotation, is going to be good this year. That might not be so surprising, but based on some of the things I have heard and out of which coach's mouth they came from, it has me more excited about this bunch, not only for next year, but for 2007. Ken Iwebema and Bryan Mattison are both over 270 pounds, double-digit gains for both players.

Iwebema was one of 42 defensive players in the nation named to the Ronnie Lott Trophy watch list. Named after Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, The Lott Trophy is awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Now in its third year, The Lott Trophy is the first college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player.

As has been pointed out on the boards, Ryan Bain is back up over 280 pounds while Alex Kanellis made some solid weight gains.

Juco newcomer Bryon Gattas worked out with the 1's at LEO while Ed Miles worked out with the 2's at WILL.

Has Iowa ever been this loaded at running back? Albert Young, Damien Sims, Shonn Greene, Dana Brown and Corey Robertson make a fine and talented stable of runners. As we all learned in 2004, depth at running back is important. With Kirk Ferentz's comments last week about looking for a quicker Albert Young this year, which is another thing that will give opposing DC's fits.

So much will hinge on this year's offensive line. It's next to impossible to evaluate the OL in non-contact settings, but Lee Gray was getting some time on Saturday. His gaining a sixth-year of eligibility will be so important for this team, especially if he can be the Lee Gray of old.

The media will have an opportunity to view Iowa's final spring practice later in April, a day that will feature some hitting. It will be a better opportunity to see who has done what this year, and we will be there in full force.

Also, look for wall to wall coverage of the Scout.com All American Combine that will take place in Iowa City on April 22nd.


Bob Bowlsby told the Iowa City Press Citizen in recent weeks that the Kinnick construction process is going very well.

The reseating project must be going well, too, as there have been fewer and fewer message board posts on that topic since things kicked off back in January.

There are still some very good seats available, and you can view those at the following link: CLICK HERE.

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