The Iowa Hawkeyes have played 18 true freshman over the past two seasons. This has been by need and design, as Kirk Ferentz has changed his viewpoint on this practice. Will any of the Class of 2009 see the field next year? Jon Miller takes a crack at that question, position by position.
The majority of Iowa's 2009 recruiting class is destined to redshirt; that's just the way it is each and every year.But Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have been playing more and more freshmen in recent years, which has been by design.
Seven true freshmen played this year, while 11 played the previous season (2007.Which members of the 2009 recruiting class is most likely to see the field?Here's Jon Miller's Top Five possibilities, with #1 being the most likely to see the field, #2 being the next most likely, etc.
We'll begin with why we think several players WON'T see the field in 2009.
TIGHT END:With Tony Moeaki, Allen Reisner and Brad Herman returning for the coming season, it's unlikely that Dakota Getz or Anthony Schiavone will play in 2009.Both players need some time in Chris Doyle's weight room before meeting the demands of the position at Iowa.
OFFENSIVE LINE:Iowa is very deep at this position, and even then, it's rare when a true freshman steps on campus physically and mentally equipped to handle the rigors of offensive line play in the Big Ten.If one of Iowa's commits comes closest to fitting that bill, it would be Nolan MacMillan, the 6-6/290 recently committed big'un.But Iowa returns 8 of the 10 names off of its Outback Bowl two-deep roster, with Dace Richardson looming as a wild card for this season.Don't count on that, but he hasn't been counted out yet, either.With those names, plus some redshirt freshmen sticking their nose into the mix, there isn't much room for the rookies.
FULLBACK:Brad Rogers and Shane Dibona already look the part; big, physical ball carriers.But Iowa's fullbacks rarely get the rock, much less two rookies.Brett Morse and Wade Leppert return for next year, so one of the rookies will really have to turn some heads in camp on the blocking front to break onto the field.If one of them is close by the end of camp, that player could hit the field for special teams, in preparation for a run at a two deep spot in 2010.
DEFENSIVE LINE:It's just unlikely that Scott Covert or Tyler Harrell is going to get reps next year.Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard (hovering around the 290 mark), Karl Klug, Chad Geary, Broderick Binns and Lebron Daniel will be competing for four starting positions, with Cody Hundertmark (nearly 280 pounds) in the mix as well heading into his third year in the program.
LINEBACKER:Unless the Hawks sign Ka'Lial Glaud, they really didn't recruit any primary linebackers in this class, as the program is pretty flush at this position.That will change with the next class.
DEFENSIVE BACK:Micah Hyde probably needs some time in the weight room, but perhaps no more than Jovon Johnson needed when he came to Iowa and played as a true freshman.It's just that the Hawks return three of four starters in the secondary and there may only be room for one of them to play, if any.Which one?
#5: Josh Brown, Cornerback:I know that Brown and the Iowa coaches have talked some about quarterback, but in the end, the most likely bet is that Brown will take reps on Norm Parker's side of the field.Iowa is fairly solid at corner going into next year, with three of its top four two-deep members returning and none of them older than a junior.But after the 2006 insertion of A.J. Edds into the fray as a true freshman, Kirk Ferentz has mentioned several times just how much a jump Edds made in spring practice following that rookie campaign, and how it allowed him to hit the ground running in 2007.Iowa plays some nickel and dime at times, and has flirted with some 3-4 and some hybrid schemes out of that base formation, so there could be time to get on the field and get some seasoning in order to be pushing for more time in 2010.
#4:Stephane Ngoumou, Wide Receiver:You'll begin to notice a theme as we get closer and closer to #1; offensive skill position players may stand the best chance to play next year.Ngoumou is a very intriguing prospect, because of his more than 1,000 receiving yards last year on 70+ receptions, his 6-4, 210 pound size and the fact that he pretty much came out of nowhere very late in the process.While some midlevel BCS programs came sniffing late in the game, the Hawkeyes made the biggest impression.His internet highlight videos had a lot of fans asking the same question; how did this guy go unnoticed?While he may need some work around the edges, if he shows flash in camp, he may get an early look.In two years, Iowa could have one of the more physically impressive wide receiver lineups in the Big Ten…now how crazy does that sound?
#3:Jordan Cotton, Wide Receiver:Cotton had 1,528 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns this past season for Mt.Pleasant, but receiver is going to be his ticket at Iowa.He is 6-1/180 and caught 29 passes for 377 yards out of the backfield.His father Marshall played running back for Iowa back in the 1980's.In recent years, several of Iowa's receivers came into the program having played different positions at high school; Andy Brodell was a running back, DJK was a quarterback and Paul Chaney was a quarterback.Trey Stross, DJK and Colin Sandeman return as the players most likely to be in the mix at the position at the start of camp, but it may not take long for some of the new faces to chip away at some early playing time depending on how they perform in August camp.
#2:Brandon Wegher, Athlete:Just where Wegher plays will likely be the biggest question, because he is such a talented player, it will be very hard to keep him off the field.The odds are decent that he will begin his Iowa career on the offensive side of the ball.Wegher finished with over 6,800 career rushing yards, 3,238 of those coming in his record breaking senior season, where he cross the goal line an astonishing 54 times.Most of the time, Wegher was a man among boys, and his excellent speed was enough for him to hit the hole and break a long one.He is a tough runner, but due to the lack of competition he faced on a week in week out basis, his lateral abilities have yet to be tested.At 5-11, 190, he has the size and speed to carry the ball 8 to 10 times a game to begin with.He could also be utilized in the slot on offense as well, as he has excellent hands.He could also get a look in the return game..
#1:Keenan Davis, Wide Receiver:Davis is one of Iowa's two four-star commits in this class, and those two players are 1-2 when it comes to the prospects that are most likely to see playing time in 2009.Iowa loses senior Andy Brodell and his 36 catches for 533 yards.Brandon Myers, a tight end, leaves a void of 34 receptions.Those should be made up by Tony Moeaki and Allen Reisner, but there is a chance some of those passes will be spread around to receivers.Davis had 52 receptions for 857 yards last year for Cedar RapidsWashington, despite being double teamed and injured during the season.He is 6-3/195 pounds and runs a 4.50 40 yard dash.He is the mostly highly decorated wide receiver recruit to commit to Iowa since Trey Stross in 2005; Stross was a US Army All American