Spring football gets underway for Iowa this week (March 22, to be precise), which means it's time for the release of a new depth chart. Or at least a "new" depth chart, at least -- there isn't much difference from the depth chart we projected after the Outback Bowl.
|POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING||POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING|
|QB||NATHAN STANLEY (So)||
TYLER WIEGERS (Jr)
DREW COOK (SO)
|DE||ANTHONY NELSON (So)||MATT NELSON (Jr)|
|RB||AKRUM WADLEY (Sr)||TOKS AKINRIBADE (So)||DT||CEDRICK LATTIMORE (So)||BRADY REIFF (So)|
|FB||BRADY ROSS (So)||AUSTIN KELLY (Jr)||DT||NATHAN BAZATA (Sr)||JAKE HULETT (Sr)|
|WR||JERMINIC SMITH (Jr)||NICK EASLEY (Jr)||DE||PARKER HESSE (Jr)||SAM BRINCKS (Jr)|
|WR||DEVONTE YOUNG (So)||ADRIAN FALCONER (So)||OLB||BEN NIEMANN (Sr)||
KEVIN WARD (Sr)
KRISTIAN WELCH (So)
|TE||PETER PEKAR (Sr)||NOAH FANT (So)||MLB||JOSEY JEWELL (Sr)||
JACK HOCKADAY (Jr)
ANGELO GARBUTT (So)
|LT||BOONE MYERS (Sr)||ALARIC JACKSON (RS Fr)||WLB||BO BOWER (Sr)||
AMANI JONES (So)
AARON MENDS (Jr)
|LG||KEEGAN RENDER (Jr)||ROSS REYNOLDS (Jr)||CB||JOSHUA JACKSON (Jr)||MICHAEL OJEMUDIA (So)|
|C||JAMES DANIELS (Jr)||LUCAS LEGRAND (Jr)||SS||MILES TAYLOR (Sr)||AMANI HOOKER (So)|
|RG||SEAN WELSH (Sr)||LEVI PAULSEN (So)||FS||BRANDON SNYDER (Jr)||JAKE GERVASE (Jr)|
|RT||IKE BOETTGER (Sr)||DALTON FERGUSON (Jr)||CB||MANNY RUGAMBA (So)||CEDRIC BOSWELL (RS Fr)|
|LS||TYLER KLUVER (Sr)||JACKSON SUBBERT (So)|
|K||KEITH DUNCAN (So)||MIGUEL RECINOS (Jr)||P||COLTEN RASTETTER (So)||???|
|KR||DEVONTE YOUNG (So)||MATT VANDEBERG (Sr)||PR||DEVONTE YOUNG (So)||MATT VANDEBERG (Sr)|
A few thoughts...
- Nathan Stanley is once again projected as QB1, which has been readily apparent ever since he was the only QB other than Beathard to get notable snaps during the 2016 season. Barring injury or a quantum leap in development from Wiegers, it's going to be #StanleyTheManley time in Iowa City this fall. Drew Cook is also listed on the QB depth chart; the better questions might be whether Cook and Wiegers are both still in Iowa City by this summer.
- No surprises at RB, either, although the departure of Derrick Mitchell, Jr. made the cupboard a little more bare at that spot. Drake Kulick is not listed at FB, presumably because he's still recovering from his broken leg suffered in the Nebraska game last November. But if he's healthy by fall, it would be a surprise if he wasn't re-installed as Iowa's lead fullback.
- VandeBerg's injury-induced absence is keenly felt at wide receiver, where Iowa is listing only two positional slots (versus the three slots they listed most of the time last year). Two of the three names on the depth chart (Young, Falconer) played without actually accumulating any stats last year. Easley was a hugely productive JUCO receiver last year (72 receptions, 954 yards, 7 touchdowns) who was originally going to walk on at Iowa State before changing his mind and deciding to walk on at Iowa.
- No changes at offensive line -- that appears to be one of the most settled position units on the team. From left to right, the starters should be Myers, Render, Daniels, Welsh, and Boettger, with Levi Paulsen functioning as the "next man in" and able to play at guard or tackle.
- No real changes at defensive line, either. The defensive tackle depth looks like a question mark since outside of Bazata, the only player who's really seen action is Lattimore in rotational duty. Iowa does have three good options at defensive end -- and that's before factoring in super-recruit A.J. Epenesa, who won't be around for spring practices but who you can likely pencil in to the fall depth chart.
- Linebacker is the other extremely settled position units on the team -- barring some big surprises, Iowa's likely to ride or die with Jewell, Niemann, and Bower as the starting linebackers next fall. There are several names listed at the back-up linebacker spots, though, including a trio of sophomores who saw playing time mostly on special teams last year (Garbutt, Welch, Jones) and the much-discussed Aaron Mends. Mends actually saw the field in the Outback Bowl; hopefully that was a prelude to more substantial playing time in 2017.
- Iowa will be welcoming several new faces in the secondary this year, especially at the cornerback spots. It seems pretty safe to write in Rugamaba as one of the starters there, given his impressive performances down the stretch for Iowa, but the other starting job looks more fluid, with Jackson and Ojemudia likely to battle it out through practice to determine a starter. At safety, Miles Taylor looks set to regain his starting job and Brandon Snyder returns at free safety.
- The new depth chart doesn't list back-ups for Duncan or Rastetter at kicker or punter, which suggests that our options for Kicker-Punter Voltron are running disturbingly low -- or the coaches just got lazy when it came to filling out the specialists on this depth chart.
- Devonte Young is listed as the main kick and punt returner; he has some big shoes to fill with Desmond King's departure. VandeBerg is the only other player listed as an option for the returner jobs, but it seems likely that they'll test out multiple players there this spring and summer to find suitable options.
- The other takeaway from the new depth chart (and roster) is the weight gains made by several players. It's a rite of passage for true freshman to add weight during their first season on campus (aka, getting #Doyleized) and there were some notable changes this year. Alaric Jackson and Cedrick Lattimore each gained 35 pounds (going from 285 to 320 and 260 to 295, respectively) and Romeo McKnight (235 to 250), Amani Jones (215 to 235), and Chauncey Golston (227 to 255) each gained significant weight, as well. Even Stanley got in on the act, going from 212 to 235. Hawkeye Report has a full rundown of the weight changes here. Alaric is now listed at 6-7, 320; let's just hope his arms are short enough to allow him to be a standout tackle for Iowa.