Swarm19: To Redshirt or Not to Redshirt?

By RossWB on December 20, 2018 at 5:41 pm
go mckinney go

So the letters of intent are signed and the 2019 recruiting class is (probably) in the books. (There's another signing day in February, so Iowa could add a few more players then, though I don't know how likely that is.) Next question: how soon do we get to see them on the field for Iowa? What are the playing time projections for this group of incoming freshmen? 

Obviously, the new redshirt rule -- which permits players to appear in up to four games in a season and still redshirt and preserve a year of eligibility -- changes things up a bit. It would not be surprising at all if most -- if not all -- of these players appear at some point next fall. But some of those will only appear in a few games and still be able to use a redshirt; others are likely to see action in many more games and use a year of eligibility. Here's how I think things may break down: 


OL Tyler Endres (6'6", 305 lbs)
OL Noah Fenske (6'5", 280 lbs)
OL Justin Britt (6'4", 282 lbs)

Very few true freshmen play notable minutes along the offensive line at Iowa. The last true freshmen OL that I can recall playing much were Bryan Bulaga, James Daniels, and Tristan Wirfs -- three of the biggest blue chip recruits Iowa has landed along the offensive line in recent memory. Endres, Fenske, and Britt don't quite fit the bill there. Endres is intriguing because he certainly seems to have the size to play immediately. I'm also ruling out Britt because he tore his ACL earlier this fall and will likely still be recovering from that next fall. He is enrolling at Iowa in January, which often gives a player a leg up when it comes to seeing the field the following season, but in his case I think that just means he'll have more time to see the Iowa training staff and get acquainted with UIHC. 

DE Jake Karchinski (6'5", 245 lbs)
DE Chris Reames (6'7", 220 lbs)

If Anthony Nelson returns to Iowa for his senior season, I'd say it's a lock that Karchinski and Reames will both redshirt next fall. If he opts to enter the NFL Draft instead, that would definitely increase the odds of them playing. Without Nelson, Iowa's returning defensive ends next fall would be A.J. Epenesa, Chauncey Golston, Brandon Simon, and John Waggoner. That said, both Karchinski and (especially) Reames will need to spend some time getting Doyle-ized before they're ready for much action. 

DL Jalen Hunt (6'2", 262 lbs)

Hunt is slightly undersized for defensive tackle at Iowa, and defensive tackle also looks like a somewhat deep position for Iowa next fall. While they'll lose two starters from this year's team (Sam Brincks and Matt Nelson), they'll also return Brady Reiff, Cedrick Lattimore, and Garrett Jansen. Davyion Nixon is also expected to be available to play next fall. Throw in RS freshman Levi Duwa (who recently switched from OL to DL) and currently redshirting freshman Noah Shannon, and there ought to be several options for Iowa at DT. Unless Hunt absolutely tears it up next August, I think they'll put him in the incubator until 2020. 

QB Alex Padilla (6'2", 195 lbs)

The only way Padilla doesn't redshirt next year is if a) Iowa has a spate of misfortune at the QB position and he's the last man standing, or b) if Stanley goes down and Padilla has emerged as the best option behind him at QB. Neither scenario seems particularly likely. 


OL Ezra Miller (6'6", 310 lbs)

As I said above, almost all true freshmen OL redshirt at Iowa. The main exceptions are the bluest of the blue chip recruits. Miller is a touch below that level according to the recruiting services -- but he's close. He's also a guy that the Iowa coaches seem to like a lot and guy that's likely going to be groomed for a big role with the OL, especially since he'll be on campus starting in January. Iowa may need to replace both starting tackles in 2020 if Tristan Wirfs and Alaric Jackson opt to test the NFL waters after next year, so it might make sense to let Miller get his feet wet in anticipation of that opportunity. Of course, it's also very possible that they can let him "get his feet wet" and still remain within the guidelines of the new redshirt rule. 

WR Desmond Hutson (6'4", 195 lbs)

Iowa has been searching for consistent and explosive production out of the WR position for several seasons, which is one reason why Hutson has a shot to not redshirt next year. I imagine Iowa will be give a decent look to every WR in the program to try and see who can be a meaningful contributor. That said, Iowa will return Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette next year and Tyrone Tracy, Jr. seems to be earmarked for a bigger role in the offense; they also added a host of WR options last year, all of whom will battle Hutson for possible playing time. If Hutson can impress enough in practice, I think he has a shot to avoid a redshirt -- but the safe bet is on him redshirting. 

DB Dane Belton (6'1", 185 lbs)

Phil Parker is not remotely afraid of playing true freshmen defensive backs as we've seen throughout his tenure and especially this year, when Julius Brents and Riley Moss started multiple games. If Belton shines in practice, he could grind his way into playing time consideration. But right now Iowa has so many guys who appear to be ahead of him at cornerback (even after the transfer departures of Josh Turner and Trey Creamer) that a RS seems a lot more likely than playing time. 

TE Sam LaPorta (6'4", 215 lbs)

Noah Fant's departure opens up a lot of opportunity at the tight end position. If T.J. Hockenson opts to go pro as well, that would open up a lot more opportunity at the tight end position. If Hockenson goes, Iowa's only returning tight ends are Drew Cook (recently converted from quarterback), Nates Vejvoda and Wieting (primarily blocking tight ends to date) and Shaun Beyer. There would certainly be room for one (or more) of Iowa's incoming tight ends to see the field in that scenario; LaPorta seems the least likely because while his receiving skills are very intriguing, he also seems like the one who would benefit the most from a RS year and the ability to acclimate to Big Ten football. 

LB Yahwey Jeudy (6'2", 215 lbs)

Linebacker was an inconsistent and somewhat frustrating position for Iowa in 2018, so all options seem likely to be on the table for 2019. That said, Campbell, Jeudy, and Jacobs aren't all going to play and Jeudy seems like the one who might benefit the most from a redshirt campaign. 

RB Shadrick Byrd (5'10", 210 lbs)

All three of Iowa's running backs from a season ago are slated to return, Henry Geil will come out of redshirt, and Tyler Goodson will be on campus. Unless Byrd looks absolutely electrifying during fall practice next year, I think opportunities for him to play will be few and far between and a redshirt will likely make sense. 


TE Logan Lee (6'5", 240 lbs)
TE Josiah Miamen (6'4", 225 lbs)

Again, there should be opportunities aplenty for new tight ends next year, especially if T.J. Hockenson joins Noah Fant in the NFL Draft. Lee seems like he most college-ready, although that's contingent on him fully recovering from the lacerated spleen (!) that ended his senior season of high school early this past fall. If that recovery lingers on into fall camp, he becomes a likely redshirt candidate. Miamen looks ready to contribute from a pass-catching standpoint and if he can grasp the offense and pick blocking assignments quickly, it definitely seems like he could work his way into the mix at tight end. 

LB Jack Campbell (6'4", 215 lbs)
LB Jestin Jacobs (6'4", 210 lbs)

Linebacker is a murky position heading into 2019. On one hand, Iowa will return five players who spent time on the two deeps in 2018 (Amani Jones, Kristian Welch, Nick Niemann, Barrington Wade, and Djimon Colbert) and they'll also welcome four guys off redshirts (Seth Benson, Dillon Doyle, Logan Klemp, Jayden McDonald). On the other hand, no one has really excelled enough at LB to lock down positions yet, which means that a true freshman could come in and impress enough to carve out a role next year. Campbell and Jacobs seem a little more polished than Jeudy at this point, which is why I gave them the nod here. Jacobs, who's also enrolling early in January and thus will be around for spring practice as well as fall camp, looks like a freak athlete who could be a difference-maker for Iowa next fall; I could see them carving out a small role for him in pass rush packages, for example. And, of course, special teams are also often a way for young linebackers to get on the field. 

DB Sebastian Castro (6'1", 198 lbs)

At minimum, I expect Castro to be a regular contributor on special teams next year. He already looks like he could be a dynamite addition to Iowa's coverage units, so I think he'll see action in that role at the very least. His playing time on defense likely depends on whether or not Amani Hooker turns pro after the Outback Bowl and how the development of a few younger guys at that position (Henry Marchese, Dallas Craddieth, and Kaevon Merriweather). 

DB Daraun McKinney (5'10", 179 lbs)

McKinney is enrolling in January and he mentioned that the coaches have already been talking about him as an option in the return game to replace the graduating Kyle Groeneweg on punt return duties and supplement Ihmir Smith-Marsette on kick return duties. I see virtually no chances that he redshirts next season. 

RB Tyler Goodson (5'10", 192 lbs)

Goodson looks like a difference-maker for an Iowa offense (and especially an Iowa running game) that's in dire need of big contributors. There will be a logjam at RB if no one transfers, but I still think Goodson will offer too much potential to stay on the sidelines. 

So those are my guesses? What do you think? Who plays? Who redshirts? Hit up the comments to let us know. 

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