The All-Decade Team of Coach Ferentz

Hawkeye Nation Senior Writer tackles the task of compiling an all-time, two-deep from the 10 years Kirk Ferentz has served as Iowa's head coach.

When the University of Iowa announced in late 1998 that Kirk Ferentz would follow Hayden Fry as its head football coach, many Hawkeye fans looked like my 4-year-old son, Alex, when I tell him we're going to the dentist. Ferentz likes to talk about being the third or fourth choice for the gig. As Ferentz begins his second decade on the Iowa, that memory fades for Iowa followers. His approval rating stands sky high after seven bowl games in 10 years. Ferentz would be the first to credit his staff and players for the success. We all know the captain drives the ship. Iowa fans also enjoy discussing who the best players are during the Ferentz Era. Cookouts, the water cooler, on a bar stool, everyone has an opinion. The following depth chart is based on what these players did at Iowa in the last decade. It's much easier to judge guys that played four years in the decade, but how do Matt Bowen and Bryan Bulaga rank? Let's get started:

OFFENSE

Quarterback

No. 1 Drew Tate: This really is a two-horse race with Tate outrunning Brad Banks by a length or two. Tate didn't put together a single season as impressive statistically as Banks' '02 campaign, but Tate's '04 might have been the most unlikely success story in the Ferentz Era. Tate ranks second to Chuck Long in career yards (8,292) and touchdowns (61).

No. 2 Brad Banks: The Flash from Florida led Iowa to an 8-0 conference mark, an 11-2 overall record and the one BCS berth in the Ferentz decade. His 26 passing touchdowns in '02 are second to Long's 27 in '85. Banks earned AP national player of the year honors and finished second to Carson Palmer in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Running Back

No. 1 Ladell Betts: No disrespect to Fred Russell, but I think this is a two-horse race as well. Staying consistent, I'm going with the guy that did it over a longer duration of time. Betts (3,686 rushing yards) ranks second on Iowa's career list while Shonn Greene is ninth at 2,228. Betts also played for the rebuilding teams of the Ferentz Era.

No. 2 Shonn Greene: The 2008 Doak Walker winner established a new single-season Hawkeye record with 1,850 yards on the ground. He averaged an amazing 6.0 yards per carry.

Offensive Line:

LT

No. 1 Robert Gallery: The Mountain plowed through defenses on his way to the Outland Trophy for the 2003 season. He came back for his senior year and ended up as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

No. 2 Bryan Bulaga: Interestingly enough, it looks like Bulaga might be faced with the same tough decision that Gallery tackled. If Bulaga continues his expected improvement in '09, does he stay or head to the pros?

LG

No. 1 Eric Steinbach: Just thinking about Steiny and Gallery on the same side of the line gets the juices flowing. If you get a chance, get yourself some film of that 2002 unit. Steinbach caused pain and now is very rich.

No. 2 Mike Jones: Jones took several turns at tackle before settling in a left guard, where he earned first-team, all-Big Ten honors in 2006.

C

No. 1 Bruce Nelson: Much like QB and RB, two guys stand out at center during the Ferentz years. I give Nelson the edge over Rob Bruggeman based on career achievements. If you're counting, that's three guys from the '02 line on the first line.

No. 2 Rob Bruggeman: Bruggie perhaps impacted the line in a given season more than any other individual during the last decade.

RG

No. 1 Seth Olsen: Olsen was one of the most versatile linemen over the last 10 years. He settled in at right guard and earned first-team all-conference honors last fall.

No. 2 Mike Elgin: Like Olsen, Elgin offered versatility and allowed the Iowa coaches to bounce him between center and guard.

RT

No. 1 Marshal Yanda: Yanda played with the edge that defines the best linemen in the Ferentz years. As physical as any front man that has put on the black and gold during the last 10 years.

No. 2 Kyle Calloway: Calloway came to Iowa much less heralded than some of his classmates in the 2005 group, but he quickly rose up the depth chart and has gotten better with each year.

Receivers

SE

No. 1 Kevin Kasper: Kasper proved to be one of the few bright spots during the first two years of the Ferentz Era. The Illinois native ranks as the school's all-time leading receiver with 157 catches and his 1,974 yards are fourth best.

No. 2 Clinton Solomon: Solomon and fellow Texan Drew Tate teamed up for a lot of connections in their time. Solomon could go across the middle or stretch the field.

WR

No. 1 Ed Hinkel: Hinkel posted more than respectable numbers during his years at Iowa, but the little things he did put him here. He blocked as well as any receiver during the Ferentz years and had a flare for the dramatic catch.

No. 2 Kahlil Hill: Tough call between Hill and Mo Brown, but I lean towards Hill he did more over time. He also earned all-American honors as a return man.

Fullback

No. 1 Jeremy Allen: Allen remains the most complete package at fullback during the last decade.

No. 2 Tom Busch: Busch gets the slight edge over Edgar Cervantes. That might have to do with Busch being more involved in the offense later in his career. They both were bad-ass blockers.

Tight End

No. 1 Dallas Clark: A walk-on linebacker from a small Iowa town to an all-American and first-round NFL pick, Clark clearly is one of the best stories during the Ferentz years.

No. 2 Scott Chandler: Chandler rolled up the second-most career receiving yards among Hawkeye tight ends behind Marv Cook. Chandler's 10 TDs rank No.1 and are four more than Cook and two more than Clark.

Kickers

No. 1 Nate Kaeding: We really don't need to explain this one, do we? Kaeding won a Groza Award and earned first-team all-American honors.

No. 2 Kyle Schlicher: Schlicher did a very nice job filling Kaeding's large shoes. He ranks fourth on Iowa's all-time scoring list after banging home 52 field goals, which put him only behind Kaeding and Tom Nichol.

DEFENSE

Line

End

No. 1 Matt Roth: The menacing force from the Chicago suburbs posted 30 sacks during his Iowa career. He ranks as one of the most colorful characters during the last decade, that's for sure.

No. 2 Kenny Iwebema: Iwebema earned first-team all-Big Ten laurels as a sophomore. Injuries plagued him during his final two seasons, but offenses always needed to account for him.

Tackle

No. 1 Mitch King: King landed on the first-team all-conference unit for two years and was named the league's lineman of the year as a senior. There wasn't much King didn't do in his four years as a starter.

No. 2 Colin Cole: Cole might be the most versatile defensive lineman in the Ferentz years. He was very productive at end and tackle.

Tackle

No. 1 Jonathan Babineaux: A converted fullback, Babineaux teamed with Roth to star on the 2004 front that is the gold standard in the Ferentz era.

No. 2 Matt Kroul: Death, taxes and Matt Kroul, who broke Nelson's record for most consecutive starts in Iowa history.

End

No. 1 Aaron Kampman: Kamp moved from linebacker to end when Ferentz arrived and never looked back. He was rewarded for his efforts with a first-team all-Big Ten honor as a senior.

No. 2 Derreck Robinson: D-Rob rated as one of the most naturally gifted of the Ferentz D-Linemen. Once he got his head together, he flourished opposite Roth.

Linebackers

Outside

No. 1 A.J. Edds: The Indiana product is as good an athlete as Iowa's had at linebacker. Yes, that includes Chad Greenway. Edds can come up in run support or run with the tight end.

No. 2 LeVar Woods: It's a close call with Woods and Grant Steen. Woods gets the nod because he stood out on teams where there was little help.

Middle

No. 1 Abdul Hodge: Hodge's 453 career tackles are the most in the last decade and the third most all-time at Iowa. He wasn't the most physically gifted athlete, but no one was more prepared.

No. 2 Fred Barr: Barr earned a reputation for colorful interviews, including the time he expressed his hatred for Iowa State. He also produced on the field. His 376 tackles are the sixth most in Hawkeye History.

Leo

No. 1 Chad Greenway: Greenway sits at fifth on the school's all-time tackle chart with 416. Greenway complemented his immense natural ability with a great work ethic.

No. 2 Mike Humpal: Overcame a horrendous injury to finish up his career strong.

Defensive Backs

Cornerback

No. 1 Jovon Johnson: Johnson's 17 career picks places him third on the school's all-time interception list. The Erie, PA product had a nose for the football and the big play.

No. 2 Antwan Allen: Johnson's running mate often took the brunt of fan criticism, but he got better every year and made himself a strong all-around corner.

No. 1 Charles Godfrey: Godfrey gets this spot because he enjoyed a very good senior year at corner after playing well at safety.

No. 2 Bradley Fletcher: Yes, it's tough to leave Amari Spievey off this list, but he's only played one year and Fletcher was the more complete player during that season.

Free Safety

No.1 Derek Pagel: This is another tough position to decide upon. Pagel gets the slight nod over Sean Considine because the latter missed a good chunk of his senior year with injury. It really is a toss-up.

No. 2 Sean Considine: Like Pagel, Considine walked onto the team and pushed his way into the starting lineup. Oh, by the way, the current starter, Brent Greenwood, also is a walk-on.

Strong Safety

No. 1 Bob Sanders: Like Kaeding and Gallery, Sanders' name gets penciled in quickly when compiling one of these teams. Ferentz credits Sanders for bringing a tough-guy mentality to Iowa football. That's good enough for me.

No. 2 Marcus Paschal: Ok, so I'm cheating a bit here. Paschal saw most of his time at the free safety, but he also played a decent amount of time at strong. He was good at both.

Punter

No. 1 Jason Baker: Baker received a lot of attempts on the early Ferentz teams. Who knows how ugly it might have gotten if it weren't for his big leg?

No. 2 Ryan Donahue: Donahue proved worthy of a scholarship early on in his Iowa career. And, he's got two years left. I see Sunday football in his future.

Punt Returner

No. 1 Kahlil Hill: Hill provided the best mix of true hands and big play ability that Iowa boasted under Ferentz.

No. 2 Ed Hinkel: Hinkel offered sure hands and real good vision. He's the prototype for what Ferentz looks for in a punt returner.

Kicker Returner

No. 1 Kahlil Hill: Hill compiled 1,509 yards on kick returns. I'm not sure Iowa has accumulated that many as a team since he left.

No. 2 Jermelle Lewis: Skills, as his teammates called him, was a freaky combination of size and speed. If he would have stayed healthy, who knows?


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories