Last week, a handful of Hawkeye football players met with some of the media to talk football, summer workouts and bear hunting…
James Vandenberg was the focus of attention as he went to Canada a few weeks ago and came back with a bear as big as the defensive line. The most amazing thing is that he took it down with a bow and arrow.
I got a chance to talk to Kevonte Martin-Manley, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Christian Kirksey and Micah Hyde. There were no bear stories…
Kevonte had a solid season last fall. He played in all 13 games with one start. The 6-foot, 205-pound sophomore from Michigan caught 30 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned four kickoffs for a 20.5 yard average.
Kevonte talked about workouts and hanging out with the freshmen, playing golf and going bowling. He claimed to be the best bowler.
“We got the foundation down,” Kevonte said about the new offense. “We’re going to add some new things in fall camp. When it comes to a new offense you have a lot to learn. Spring ball is a short period of time but we did pick up on the foundation.”
Erik Campbell, the wide receiver coach, said in the spring that Kevonte is stepping up and taking charge as an upperclassman.
“I’m going into my third year and I’m looking around in the locker room and I’m a veteran so I have to step up and step to the plate and I’m ready to do it,” said Kevonte. “I’m doing it for myself as well as the team.”
Kevonte likes the young receivers and said it will be good competition this fall.
Ever since C.J. Fiedorowicz came on campus, big things were expected of him.
C.J. was one of the top rated tight ends in the country and at 6 feet-7 inches, 265 pounds he is a big target with really good hands.
He played in every game as a true freshman but had no catches. Last year he showed signs of greatness with 16 catches for 167 yards and three scores. C.J. averaged 10.4 yards per catch.
New offensive coordinator Greg Davis said C.J. is the biggest tight end he’s ever coached.
C.J. has been playing some basketball this summer and likes to mix it up with fellow tight end Ray Hamilton. Ray played with Aaron White in high school.
There is some friendly trash talking.
“When you throw down on them or you block them off the backboard,” said C.J. with a smile. “It’s all fun and games.”
C.J. is very impressed with David Raih, who is a graduate assistant and coaches tight ends.
“Coach Raih teaches fundamentals so well,” C.J. said. “In meetings, he’ll harp on the little things like he’ll call on you and make sure you know everything. I think I learned way more this spring than I did in the first year and a half. I’m pretty comfortable with what Coach Davis is trying to do.”
C.J. is going into his junior year and is trying to develop into a good leader.
“Whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s out in the field throwing around, being in the front of the line showing the guys what to do is a big thing,” said C.J.
I look for C.J. to catch at least 30-35 passes and become a big part of the offense.
Christian Kirksey is the new look at linebacker for the Hawks.
Christian, who will be a junior, checks in at 6 feet-2 inches, 220 pounds. That’s smaller than Hawk linebackers three or four years ago, but Christian is faster than most and can keep up with tight ends and backs out of the backfield.
Iowa will be blitzing more next fall, which suits Christian fine.
“Any linebacker that hears blitz will get excited,” said Christian, who started all 13 games last year.
Christian had 62 solo tackles and 48 assists last season. He also had five tackles for a loss, one quarterback sack and one interception.
He said he was comfortable playing outside linebacker and doesn’t think it will be a big difference with Phil Parker as new defensive coordinator.
Micah Hyde will be a senior this fall and is a two-year starter.
Micah was named first team All-Big Ten by College Football Madness and second team All-Big Ten by the media.
The 6 feet-1 inch, 190-pound cornerback had three interceptions which tied for the team lead.
“I’m excited,” said Micah about his senior year. “I just can’t wait to get out there and start playing.”
Micah said it will be an easy transition to Phil Parker being the new defensive coordinator.
“I think we definitely have the same defense that we’ve been running,” said Micah who led the team with an 8.2 punt return average. “Nothing is really new. I just think that coach Parker will be a great play caller.”
Micah also likes to work under new d-back coach Darryl Wilson.
“I have two good coaches that are going to tell me to get into the right position to make the play,” said Micah.
Keenan Davis and Martin-Manley are both working hard this summer and Micah likes what he sees.
“They’re definitely good,” said Micah. “I know there’s no pads on but they are looking great. They are catching the ball. That’s the number one thing about being a receiver is catching the ball.”
The summer is an important time for the players to work out in the weight room, run a few drills, throw and catch some passes and hang out.
So far, so good.