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Spring football 2018

Hawkeye defensive linemen Sam Brincks (90) and Cedrick Lattimore (95) leap into J.T. Barrett's passing lane during Iowa’s 55-24 upset of No. 3 Ohio State Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (photo by Brian Fleck)

It’s time to talk spring football for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Hawks have to replace three linebackers, two backs and one lineman on the defensive side of the ball.
On offense, the top two running backs, two starting linemen and a wide receiver are gone.
Defensively speaking, Iowa gave up an average of 19.9 points per game, which isn’t a bad number.
The defense also gave up an average of 4.1 yards per carry. It would be desirable to have the number under 4.The font four could be the deepest the Hawkeyes’ possessed since Kirk Ferentz became coach.
This is after learning Daviyon Nixon (6-3, 305 pounds) will have to sit out next season to work on his grades.
Nixon, who will practice with the team, is a JuCo transfer from Iowa Western expected to be in the rotation on the defensive line.
Iowa will miss tackle Nathan Bazata, who was All-Big Ten last fall and started 37 games for the Hawks.
Brady Reiff (6-3, 272) and Cedrick Lattimore (6-3, 295) are listed as the top two tackles for spring ball.
Reiff played in all 13 games last year and put on 12 pounds in the offseason.
Cedrick also played in every game with five starts
Matt Nelson (6-8, 295), who started eight games last season, is held out recovering from a surgery.
Nelson started the last seven games and has eight sacks for his career.
Backups include Dallas Jacobus (6-0, 280), a sophomore from Cedar Rapids Kennedy, and Garret Jansen (6-2, 280), a junior from Pella.
Jacobus, a walk-on, was first team all-state as a senior at Kennedy, and was named District Defensive Player of the Year.
Jansen is a two-year letterman who played in every game last season.
Jansen was also first team all-state as a senior and a four-year starter at Pella.

Defensive end

Think about this Hawkeye fans… A. J. Epenesa (6-5, 272) was a five-star recruit coming out of high school.
He was rated the No. 1 high school defensive end in the nation with offers from Alabama, Florida State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA, USC, every Big 10 school and every Big 12 school plus numerous others.
Epenesa played in every game last year, but is listed number two on the depth chart behind Parker Hesse (6-3, 261), who will be a senior next fall.
Hesse is a three-year letterman who intercepted a pass against Nebraska as a freshman and scored from 4 yards-out in Iowa’s 28-20 win.
Last season, Hesse was named Second Team Academic All-American.
Anthony Nelson (6-7, 271) is the starter on the left side.
Nelson, a junior, is a two-year starter named Third Team All-Big Ten last season.
He led the team in sacks (7.5) and recorded 9.5 tackles for loss.
The former Urbandale prep was named First Team Academic All-American.
When Anthony (6-7), Matt Nelson (6-8) and A. J. Epenesa (6-5) are the front line, it is a tall task to pass over. Anthony Nelson had four pass breakups last year, Matt Nelson three and Epenesa one.
Backups include Sam Brincks (275) and Romeo McKnight (6-4, 257).
Brincks is a senior and a three-year letterman. He played in every game the last two years and had 17 tackles last season.
McKnight was ranked the No. 9 prospect in Illinois his senior year in high school. He won the state wrestling championship at 220 pounds as a junior.
Iowa is bringing in four-star defensive end recruit John Waggoner (6-5, 245).
Waggoner was rated the top recruit in Iowa and because of the Hawkeyes’ depth at defensive end, they could redshirt him.
Phil Parker, the defensive coordinator, was asked recently how many defensive line players he would like in the rotation.
Parker said 10 and the Hawks will be close to having that many.

Two players leave Hawkeyes

As most of you know by now, two Hawkeye basketball players decided to leave the program.
Brady Ellingson, a 6-4 guard, graduates this spring and will be a graduate transfer at another school next year.
Ahmad Wagner, a 6-7 forward, will leave Iowa this spring and transfer to a school to play football next season.
Both players were good students, didn’t make waves off the court and were good teammates.
Ellingson had a career-high 23 points against Savannah State in 2016 and hit five 3-pointers against Ohio State in 2017. He played in all 34 games in 2016-17 and didn’t miss a free throw going 18-18 from the line. For Ellingson’s career, he recorded one start and shot 40 percent from 3-point range.
Wagner started 25 times in his three years, was never a great scorer but played good defense, was a solid rebounder and a good leader on the team. When he was a senior in high school, he helped lead his basketball team to a state title in Ohio. He also started on the football team that made it to the state finals. The 6-7, 235-pound split end caught 58 passes for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Ohio State was interested in Wagner as a football player, but he stayed with Iowa to play basketball.
Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz contacted Wagner since he has two seasons of eligibility left, if he stays at Iowa.
This could open up three scholarships for the Hawkeyes if Tyler Cook doesn’t return.
Both Ellingson and Wagner did a good job of representing the Hawkeyes, good luck to both of them.
I’d like to see Connor McCaffery get one of the scholarships and play basketball full-time as he is currently a walk-on.
The basketball teams needs Connor more than the baseball team does and it is so hard to compete in both sports, since the seasons overlap so much.
All Hawkeye fans know Iowa could use another point guard to help the team.
Hopefully, Fran McCaffery can get a grad transfer or even a junior college transfer like a Bryce Cartwright.
Cartwright came to Iowa in 2010 from junior college playing in all 31 games. He led the team in assists and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten.
Iowa finished 11-20 that season, Fran’s first.
It’s already an interesting offseason.
Next week, I’ll look at the linebackers, and how does Iowa replace a consensus first team All-American?