1. Incoming freshman, Steve Burch, will start out at MLB rather than DE. He checked in at 6-2, 265, and in great shape. He can really move his feet, so he will compete to play somewhere this year. Playing inside will help his learning curve if he is going down the path to DT. Although he looks too good to redshirt, Burch must learn the defensive system. However, this guy is so cat quick that the coaches will be bringing him along as fast as possible.
2. One reason that the highly touted Burch is starting out at MLB is the switch by Matt Roth to DE. Matt is now 6-4, 255, and will likely add a few more pounds. He was bubbling about the opportunity to learn and play the rush defensive end position. He won't have the pass coverage responsibilities and can concentrate on creating havoc with his big, fast body. He wants to hit someone on every play. That is why he is perfect for this move. Norm Parker said that Roth would one day play on Sundays as a DE.
3. One other surprise on media day was the development of O.J. No, not the mercurial runner of USC and NFL fame. This guy doesn't slash and dash. This guy is round and built to pound. Defensive tackle O.J. Payne is now in the 290 range at 5-9. Remember Evan the Oven? This guy is built like a meat locker. Coaches love his heart and his all out physical play. O.J. is looking to deliver some pain to some Big Ten running backs.
4. Watch out for new CB Sean Considine. His heart, determination, and overall athletic ability may be a big reason why Coach Ferentz did not seem overly stressed over the loss of Benny Sapp. Sean was making noises at safety in spring practice. Coach Ferentz loved to kid Bob Sanders that Sean was faster than him and better at blocking punts. Therefore, redshirt freshman Antwan Allen will not have the starting job handed to him easily as he will have to battle it out with the more muscular Considine. Allen does know coverage schemes at corner, while Sean will have to learn the nuances of playing the pass receiver. However, Sean can already hit with the best of them.
5. It would appear that incoming freshman, Jovon Johnson will have to play some CB this year. Fellow freshman CB, Ritchie Williams, reported to camp with a minor ankle injury. That may hurt his chances of playing early.
6. Incoming freshman safety, Marcus Paschal arrived much thicker than when he left Iowa City on his official visit. Therefore, Marcus could see some playing time. However, as Josh Clark has stated, safety is the hardest position for a freshman to play on defense. Since the staff loves the potential of Tommy Zbikowski at FS, could Marcus be his potential future partner at SS, after the departure of Bob Sanders?
7. Big Ben's time may have finally come, as Ben Sobieski is healthy and ready to compete for a starting position in the OL. Ben Sobieski now weighs in at a massive, but trim, 325 pounds. He has been doing all the lifts for Coach Doyle this summer. This is Ben's last chance to prove himself in order to be on the way to NFL millions. Look for Iowa to experiment with Ben at RG.
8. Calvin Davis, the incoming jet from City High, is starting to spread his wings. Davis is growing as he has added inches and pounds to his formerly lean frame. He is already bigger than Ed Hinkel, and appears to have an extra inch or two in height, as he stands near 6'3. Calvin could quite literally move quickly up the WR ranks. Coaches report that he runs very smoothly. His gliding strides belie his 47-second speed in the 400 meters. Coaches feel that he has NFL type speed and skills. However, after only two years of high school football, Calvin has a lot to learn.
9. Not all the players have been growing, however. C.J. Barkema was looking to be a logical choice to move to the OL as he neared 280 pounds. However, he has worked on trimming down this summer and is now a svelte 265 on his 6-8 frame. Barkema has worked very hard on his acceleration and speed. Although the staff thinks he can be a good Big Ten TE, he will need to continue to improve his speed.
10. The staff will have to look at the DT position after the season due to the loss of Colin Cole and with Jared Clauss becoming a senior next season. While Robert Taylor at Iowa Central is a terrific talent, the staff has questions on whether he is motivated enough. He will be a guy to watch for this fall. Taylor has fantastic ability but need to show he is willing to go the extra mile. Coach Doyle could turn him into something special.
11. DT Colin Cole describes himself as just plain ole' vanilla. However, he isn't afraid to get nasty on the field. He is a prime example of how overwhelmed the staff is with the senior's hard work in the off-season this year. Colin wasn't alone as Fred Barr, DJ Johnson, and Derek Pagel should all have big years on the defensive side. Their dedication over the summer will pay dividends this fall.
12. Highly touted recruit OL Mike Jones finally arrived in Iowa City for an unofficial visit last week. The 6-5, 305 pound OT from Oak Lawn Richards H.S. in Illinois is one of the most highly coveted linemen in the nation. His older brother is now a rookie offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. Will the Raven connection score a big one for their former Associate Head Coach, Kirk Ferentz?