Just like spring practice, Brad Banks is blazing a trail for others to follow in order to grasp the starting QB spot. Brad has continued to increase his chemistry and timing with the WR corp. Nate Chandler has improved his mechanics and role in the system, but still needs to improve in his decision making and accuracy in throws. Nate is the #2 QB, and the staff is still high on his potential, but Jason Manson is coming along quickly.
Jason needs to get bigger because at only 6'1 175, he will not be able to consistently take the hits in the Big Ten. However, Jason has shown a stronger arm than expected and has a good touch on his deep passes. He is clearly looking like the quarterback of the future at this time, and could end up being the #3 QB this fall. That means he will not red-shirt. Jason will have to decide if he is a fan of that option. Playing Jason this fall would help tier the careers of the remaining quarterbacks. The possibility of a potential move to TE for Cy Phillips can be put aside at this time as he has came in very sharp early in practice. Cy has already shown that he has a stronger arm than Nathan Chandler. He also has great size for a QB in the Big Ten. In addition, Phillips has the type of pocket presence Coach O'Keefe loves to utilize. Cy has been described early as a clone of Scott Mullen, with a better arm and long ball. Matt Bohnet is progressing, but at a slower rate than others. If Jason or Cy quickly surpass Matt, expect the staff to contemplate a possible move to fullback.
As HTO.com reported yesterday, Aaron Greving did suffer a twisted ankle in practice. Unfortunately, it is the same ankle that has given Aaron problems in the past. He is questionable for the opener against Akron. Whether Greving plays or not, expect Fred Russell and Jermelle Lewis to still gain a lot of carries. Fred is determined to make a splash on the field, and I would look for a big game against Akron. Jermelle has been getting raves about his performance in practice. He is exhibiting the same ability that he displayed as a red-shirt freshman. But now he is bigger and faster. It will be hard to keep Jermelle off the field so if Greving returns slowly, and Jermelle can take off, there may be no looking back!
Aaron Mickens has taken over the starting job at fullback, and he will be used as a primary running and receiving option for the Hawkeyes. Aaron has good quickness for his size and a lot of heart, but still expect the Hawks to run a lot of one back sets to get either three wide receivers or two tight ends on the field. Edgar Cervantes will get his share of playing time, also, and his size will be better used for short yardage situations.
CJ Jones has stepped up as a leader on the practice field, and appears determined to have a big senior season. CJ's dream has been to play in the NFL, and the only way he'll make it to the next level is to show his playmaking ability. I would expect CJ to hook up with Brad on many occassions. Ed Hinkel continues to be solid and should provide to be a reliable WR this fall. Ed will not burn people with gamebreaking speed, but he runs great routes and has sure fire hands. Maurice Brown is still a bit of a question as he continues to sit out with an injury, but the physical ability is all there. He will have his chance on the field to show what he is worth. Ramon Ochoa is the fourth option at this time, and the staff has confidence that he can do a good job. Ramon is an energy bug and gives 110% on every play so the staff loves his attitude. However, Clint Solomon is quickly emerging as the big presence at WR the Hawks have been looking for. At only 175, do not expect Clint to be an every down WR, but should be used to run some deep routes and have a role on special teams. Clint has been the best athlete on the field so far in practice and has a great work ethic. This fall should be the start of a great career for Clint.
There is no question that Dallas Clark will be successful this fall, but the only thing to worry about is how the staff will make him successful. Dallas will be used all over the field and will be a primary target of Brad Banks. Erik Jensen will be used in short yardage situations, and Tony Jackson continues to be a playmaker even with added size at 270. Tony will get some key playing time this fall, and the staff loves his potential. Tony has had to overcome personal tragedy to reach this point in his career. His mother passed away shortly after his arrivalf on campus and has he battled uphill ever since. He has benefited from the strong sense of "Iowa Football Family". His determination and desire have been exemplary and the next three years should be very exciting for him. CJ Barkema could see some role time at TE, mainly in short yardage and goal line situations.
Everyone wants to know about Ben Sobieski, and he has not been disappointing this fall. Ben, at 325, still moves the best of any lineman, has the best techinique, and has the most respect of any lineman as he is the 'old man'. Expect Ben to continue to get snaps as the #2 LT through the first game or two, but if he can show consistentcy, I expect by Big Ten season he will be moved to right guard for a possible starting position. This will also allow the staff to move Blake Larsen to the #2 LT in preparation for his starting role this spring.
The offensive line remains a very strong unit that is also a close unit. Brian Ferentz has had a slower fall than expected after doing very well in the spring. Do not expect it to last long, though, as Brian is a hard worker. Brian will see some role minutes this fall in preparation for his battle for the starting center position during the spring. The staff still remains high on Kory Borchers and he will see minutes this fall. Kory will be a guy that will be taking over as a leader this spring with Robert Gallery and Sam Aiello. The only question will be where Sam and Kory will be placed after this season as it is possible one will be moved to right tackle. Ben Cronin continues to progress, and will likely be the #2 this spring at right guard.
HTO.com will have a defensive practice report on each position up very shortly! Keep coming here for the most informative inside information avaiable on the Hawks on the net!