IOWA CITY– The linebacking corps could be the most talented and deepest position for the Hawkeyes.
You have two All Big Ten candidates back for their senior year with A.J. Edds (6-4, 244) and Pat Angerer (6-1, 235) leading the way.
A.J. has been a starter since his freshman year. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten choice last year and has 25 straight starts.
A.J. has missed spring ball because of injury so sophomore Tyler Nielson (6-4, 232) and junior Troy Johnson (6-2, 235) have been getting some snaps.
Pat led the team in tackles with 107, picked off five passes and was named second team All-Big Ten. Coach Parker said Pat has stepped up his role this spring.
Junior Jacody Coleman (6-3, 245) started the first two games last year before Pat took over. He has good speed and can stop the run.
There will be a battle for the other spot with juniors Jeremiha Hunter (6-2, 235) and Jeff Tarpinian (6-3, 235).
Jeremiha started every game last year, but Jeff is healthy this spring and Coach Parker said it’s very close competition.
Iowa used four linebackers against the spread last year and with the depth and talent they will probably do it again this fall.
Coach Parker said the Hawks have more good cover guys than they’ve had since he’s been here.
That should help out in two areas, sacks and interceptions.
Gone is cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who had a great senior year and will be playing on Sunday next season.
At the end of spring practice junior Jordan Bernstine (5-11, 205), sophomore Shaun Prater (5-11, 175) and redshirt freshman Greg Castillo (5-11, 180) were battling for Bradley’s starting spot.
Jordan was a Parade All American in high school and played as a true freshman. He’s played a lot in the nickel set and it’s time for him to step up.
Shaun will be suspended for the first couple of games next fall because of an alcohol-related violation but will add some depth when he returns. He played in every game last year as a true freshman and has good speed.
Greg redshirted last fall. He picked off a pass in the spring game and ran it back for a score.
Amari Spievey has the other cornerback spot covered. Norm Parker says the 6-0, 190 pound junior could be the best cornerback Iowa has had since he’s been here.
Amari redshirted his freshman year, became academically ineligible and then transferred to Iowa Central Community College his second year.
Amari intercepted seven passes, returned two for touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for scores at ILCC. He was a junior college All American that year before becoming a Hawkeye again.
Last fall Amari picked off four passes, returned one for a score and was named second team All Big Ten.
Sophomore William Lowe (5-10, 170) backs up Amari.
The Hawks have both safeties back and both should be All Big Ten candidates.
Junior free safety Brett Greenwood (6-0, 200) has 20 straight starts. He picked off two passes and had 68 tackles last year.
Brett will team up with strong safety Tyler Sash, a sophomore who started 11 games last season. Tyler led the Big Ten with five interceptions including a big one late against Penn State.
Both were held out of spring practice recovering from injuries, which gave backups Jack Swanson (5-11, 195) and David Cato (5-11, 205) plenty of reps.
Jack redshirted last year while David played in every game as a true freshman.
There is probably only one kicker in Iowa history that faced such a pressure field goal like Daniel Murray did last fall. Daniel’s game winning 31-yard kick against Penn State last season would compare to Rob Houghtlin’s 1985 last second kick against Michigan.
The number one ranked Iowa Hawkeyes trailed second ranked Wolverines 10-9 with two seconds left on the clock. Rob calmly split the uprights in front of a national TV audience from 29 yards out as I sat in the stands and got to see of one of the greatest wins in Hawkeye history.
I also was at the cold dreary day of the Penn State win, also in front of a national TV audience, and the nervous tension all came full circle.
Daniel was 14-14 on extra points and 6-9 on field goals. He also handled the kickoffs.
True freshman Trent Mossbrucker shared the kicking chores with Daniel. Trent, who was 31-33 on PATs and 13-15 on field goals, led the Big Ten in field goal percentage (86.7 percent).
I’m looking for junior punter Ryan Donahue to be on someone’s All American team next fall. The 6-3, 180 pounder from Illinois has continued to improve and averaged 41.6 yards per punt. He averaged 41.1 as a freshman. He had a punt of at least 50 yards in the last 11 games and was named special teams player of the week in the Hawks' win over Minnesota. He punted four times for a 48.5 average against the Gophers.
The spring two deep roster has six seniors, 12 juniors, seven sophomores and five redshirt freshman on offense, plus senior Dace Richardson.
On defense only three seniors, 12 juniors, eight sophomores and three redshirt freshman are listed.
This could be a nice two-year run if the big boys stay healthy.
I’ll make my predictions in August…I can’t wait!