Spring Position Preview: WR & TE

Where Iowa had question marks at wide receiver at many points during the 2007 season, this year they return quite a bit of experience and explosiveness. The Hawkeyes also return a wealth of experience and talent at tight end. We'll take a look at both of these position groupings in this preview....

Wide Receivers

Iowa's new assistant coach, Erik Campbell, will be working with the receivers and will have plenty of talent bidding for playing time. Campbell has been in coaching for over 20 years, with the last 13 coming at Michigan.

The Departed

James Cleveland, Dominique Douglas and Anthony Bowman are no longer with the team. Douglas and Bowman played as freshmen in 2006, but did not see one snap in 2007 due to being suspended from the team following arrests stemming from charges of credit card theft. Bowman was reinstated to the team for a short period of time with some significant stipulations. Last month, Kirk Ferentz announced that Bowman would be leaving school. Douglas left the program in December, and Cleveland was kicked off the team following a February arrest on prescription drug charges.

Who's On Campus

The Hawkeyes return four wide receivers that saw considerable action in 2007. Sophomore Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (6-1, 205) caught 38 for 482 yards and two touchdowns.

Going into spring ball, Koulianos and junior Trey Stross (6-3, 195) are listed as starters on one side. Behind them is sophomore Colin Sandeman (6-1,195), who played as a true freshman last year. Sandeman caught four passes in 2007.

Senior Andy Brodell (6-3, 200) is a candidate for all-Big Ten honors. He's listed as the starter at the other wide out position. Brodell suffered a leg injury in last year's Wisconsin game and missed the remainder of the season. He's back at full strength this spring. Brodell caught 13 passes for 96 yards prior to sustaining the injury. Sophomore Paul Chaney, Jr. (5-9, 165) is pushing Brodell for playing time.

All five of the aforementioned receivers are considered extremely fast and have the capability of playing either wide out position. Iowa's receiving corps is talented and still very young. There's only one junior and senior among the top half dozen wide receivers.

Who's On the Way

Shane Prater (6-1, 170) out of Nebraska is the only receiver Iowa signed in the Class of 2008. If he comes in and turns some heads in August, there is always a chance he could see the field if he shows an ability to absorb the system and potential for special teams, but that doesn't seem likely, as long as Iowa can stay healthy at this position.

Tight Ends

This could be one of, if not the strongest and most talented positions on the field for Iowa. Coach Campbell takes over the mentoring of tight ends in addition to his aforementioned role with receivers.

Who's On Campus

A strong positive for Campbell will be the return of senior Tony Moeaki (6-4, 255), who is back following a season ending injury in last year's Wisconsin game. Although listed as a senior, he's expected to have two years remaining following a medical redshirt in 2007. Moekai will miss the entire spring as he recovers from wrist surgery from the winter that was in connection to the injury he suffered against Wisconsin.

Moeaki played in only four games last year and caught 14 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. He's considered an excellent blocker and an outstanding route runner. He played as a true freshman in 2005 and along side Scott Chandler, as a sophomore, in 2006. Moeaki has caught 33 career passes for 422 yards and six touchdowns. He'll be an important part of Iowa's offense in 2008.

Listed behind Moeaki will be senior three-year letterman Brandon Myers (6-4, 250). Myers started Iowa's final eight games last season, following Moeaki's injury. He did an outstanding job catching 21 passes for 208 yards and five touchdowns. Playing behind Myers will be sophomore Allen Reisner (6-3, 220), who also saw considerable action last season. He caught only two passes for 31 yards, but played in eight games. Senior Mike Sabers (6-5, 245) is another letterman at tight end who adds depth to the position.

Who's On The Way

Jonathon Gimm (6-3, 235) and J.D. Griggs (6-5, 225) signed with Iowa back in February, but barring any injuries, these two players appear destined for redshirt seasons if they remain at tight end.

2008 Outlook

Depending on how Iowa's running game shakes out, the Hawkeyes have the talent at tight end and receiver to utilize some four and five wide sets. Of course, that has not been something we have seen a lot of during the Ken O'Keefe/Kirk Ferentz era of Iowa offense. Such formations and offensive attacks have become widely popular at the college level, and we saw two teams from bordering states use such personnel groupings with great success last year in Kansas and Missouri. Missouri utilized two of their excellent receiving tight end options in their offense. Moeaki and Myers could be used at the same time.

Between the two groups, health is a must. Iowa needs its full compliment of playmakers on the field this year to take pressure off of the quarterback. Iowa has some talent and some potentially dangerous playmakers at both groups. Brodell has shown big play ability in his final two games of the 2006 season, while Moeaki shined last year against Syracuse. Johnson-Koulianos might have as much raw playmaking ability as Iowa has seen on the offensive side of the ball in more than a decade, but he has to do the simple things consistently before he can break through in a big way. Stross was a high school All American and has made some clutch catches in his career. Chaney is incredibly fast and came up big against Michigan State in 2007. Sandeman flashed early on last year, but was never expected to be placed in a role where he had to be relied upon that early. The same can be said of DJK and Chaney as well.

If Iowa's offense is going to take big steps forward this year, and it has to, wide receiver and tight end will carry a lot of that load.

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