Big Ten Kickoff Notebook - Day 1

Get a roundup of Day 1 at the Big Ten Kickoff Event in Chicago right here in the HN Notebook.

CHICAGO - This summer's favorite soap opera in Hawkeye Country moved to Chicago on Monday as Kirk Ferentz was asked about how the Jewel Hampton World had most recently turned.

"We expect him to be full speed," Iowa's coach said at the Big Ten Mickoff Event here on Monday. "He been back, I guess it's been two weeks now, two plus weeks, going full speed. Knock on wood, hopefully it all materializes the right way."

Hampton's knee injury created the biggest buzz of the summer as it pertained to Iowa Football. Ferentz was out of town at the time the news hit the streets and the story took on a life of its own. One of the newspapers sent a reporter to Hampton's house.

"I'm not a doctor, but it did not require surgery," Ferentz said. "Those things are part of football. It was a non-contact. Nobody fell on him. It was one of those things like a lot of those knee injuries are.

"I left town and we had a runaway train back in Iowa City. I missed all the three-ring circus, but the circus will come back to town sooner or later, I'm sure. It always does, right?"

Special Teams: Ferentz said that Hampton is in the equation as a kick returner, a task he took on last year as a true freshman. The coach also elaborated on some key aspects of the team's third phase.

"Ryan (Donahue) is as good a punter as there is in the country. His stats might not reflect it because he puts the ball up in the air, but our coverage stats reflect it. We have a healthy competition between Daniel (Murray) and Trent (Mossbrucker at kicker). An added bonus is we have Andy Schulze back at long snapper."

Ferentz sounded less settled regarding the return game.

"The returning thing is up in the air. You graduate a guy like (Ed) Hinkel and then Andy (Brodell). Those are guys that gave us how ever many years that is of dependable, good decision making back there and good return ability. That's a big thing. And our kick returns have been underwhelming, overall. We've had our moments, but that's an area I hope we can really improve as a football team."

Cornered: It sounded like Jordan Bernstine has the inside track on the cornerback spot vacated by Bradley Fletcher and opposite standout Amari Spievey.

"I don't see anybody beating Amari out except Amari, and I don't think he's going to let that happen," Ferentz said. "It's open right now, but Jordan had a good spring. One of the challenges with Jordan is keeping him healthy; you know, keeping him out there where he can practice and practice and practice. If he can do that, he'll be fine. He's got a great attitude, good talent and he's a smart young man. But we have some other guys competing with him, too. And it's going to be fun to watch that one go."

Suspensions: Ferentz spoke about game suspensions for players that ran into off-field trouble during the spring and summer. Kyle Calloway, who received an OUI citation while driving a moped, will miss the opener against Northern Iowa on Sept. 5, but should be back for Game 2 at Iowa State.

"As long as he takes care of the things that we've spelled out for him, I expect him to (be back after missing one game)," the coach said.

Ferentz also announced that Shaun Prater would be suspended for two games for a drinking and driving arrest and that James Ferentz would be out one game.

Clearinghouse: Every year, it's a concern whether or not all of the incoming players will qualify academically. Ferentz was asked what he new about the latest group on Monday.

"We're waiting on one score, which I was told we would learn about Wednesday. So, if there's an announcement to make, I'll make it at the end of the week. But we think we're in good shape."

True Freshmen: Ferentz gave a little insight into how the incoming class my impact this year's team:

"I think at our skill positions it's certainly possible, receiver, running back. Time will tell on that one. Defensively, maybe some guys that can play special teams, perhaps. I don't think we're coming in and looking at anyone starting on that side or offense, either, but maybe giving us a push. That would be great."


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