IOWA CITY, Ia. - Adrian Clayborn spent the 2009 football season compiling a highlight film. The blocked punt for a touchdown at Penn State and the destruction of Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl stand out among many special moments.
Some on-lookers felt like his time at Iowa was complete. The defensive end surprised them.
"I love college. I love Iowa," he said in December. "I can wait a year. I don't think I've proven the things that I need to prove on the college level."
And that's saying a lot.
Clayborn earned first-team all-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media in 2009 after recording 9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. The St. Louis native was named the Orange Bowl's most outstanding player.
The Iowa defensive line will receive a lot of attention heading into next season as the marquee unit on a team likely to start the season in the nation's Top 15. If you're trotting out a suspect offensive front against this group, it could be a real long afternoon.
In the next installment of Hawkeye Insider's Sneak Peek series, we project the depth chart of Iowa's defensive line:
No. 1 DE Adrian Clayborn, RS Senior - Have we mentioned Clayborn?
Opponents will game plan to stop the 6-foot-3, 285-pounder, but they did that last season with limited success. And Clayborn should benefit from playing along side veterans. That could discourage the opposition from double teaming him.
Clayborn really improved his pass rush skills last season and became a more complete player. He's said he wants to take another step forward as a senior. If he does that, he's an all-American.
No. 2 DE Lebron Daniel, RS Junior - Clayborn didn't leave the field very often last season. When he did get dinged up late in the season, Daniel replaced him.
Iowa has groomed Daniel and likes him a lot. He should see his reps increase in '10.
No. 1 DT Christian Ballard, TR Senior - Mr. Unselfish moved inside last season after two years on the edge. After an adjustment period, the Kansas native became a very disruptive force. Ballard posted 5.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss.
I really think this guy is going to blow up this season. He's an incredible athlete for a big man. Remember, he came to Iowa as a TE.
No. 2 DT Mike Daniels, RS Junior - When Iowa struggled against the run at times last season, the coaches called on Daniels to plug up the middle. He performed well.
Kirk Ferentz likes to call certain back-ups his extra starters, and Daniels will fall into that category this season.
No. 1 DT Karl Klug, RS Senior - The Minnesota native got pushed around by some bigger linemen early last season, his first as a starter, but by year's end, he was doing the pushing. He finished second on the team with 12 tackles for loss and added three sacks.
Like Ballard, Klug is poised to take off as a senior.
No. 2 DT Steve Bigach, RS Sophomore - The Cleveland native took another step forward last season as a developing practice player. He did not see any game action.
Game reps likely will be limited this season as well with Ballard, Klug and Daniels ahead of him, but he'll likely be next in line should there be an injury. The Hawkeyes' depth at this position is thin right now.
No. 1 DE Broderick Binns, RS Junior - Like Klug, Binns experienced some growing pains in ‘09 going from situational player to starter. By season's end, he, too, had figured it out. He wound up with nine tackles for loss and six sacks, and his unusually long arms allowed him to break up a team-high nine passes.
Binns possesses all the tools to be an all-conference performer. If teams decide to load up on Clayborn's side, he could enjoy a huge year.
No. 2 DE Scott Covert/Marty Hopkins, RS Freshmen - These two second-year players likely will battle for reps with the No. 2s this season. They probably won't see many, if any, game reps if Clayborn, Ballard and Daniel stay healthy.
Others to Watch
Joe Gaglione - With two years in the program, the Ohio native might be poised to take a step into the depth chart. This is a big year for him as things will open up for him as a junior of he proves reliable.
Dominic Alvis - The in-state product spent last season building strength. He might need another year with Coach Doyle, but will have an opportunity to compete with Covert and Hopkins this spring and summer.
Joe Forgy - The junior college transfer will have to fight through the group of youngsters to see the field. He does have the experience advantage and that could be enough.
Mike Hardy - This true freshman from Wisconsin is a very good athlete who could find himself on the field right away if there are injuries or some of the younger players ahead of him can't come through.
Louis Trinca-Pasat - Graduated early from high school to enroll at Iowa last month. He's going to need time in the weight room and likely will redshirt this fall.
Carl Davis - If this big fella' can make the grade, he could be tossed into action right away. The true freshman is a house at 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds.
Anthony Ferguson Jr. - Another big body coming to town this fall, he might battle Davis for a chance to get on the field right away. More likely, both will take the season to develop behind the Top 3 at DT.
Donavan Johnson - A really good athlete for a big man, Johnson could end up being a steal in the '10 class. He owns the talent to step in right away if he has a good August.