Big Ten Media Days are upon us and while there will be plenty of puff pieces and small news bits to cover -- Josey Jewell likes ham balls! -- one of the few big(ish) news items to be released each year is the new depth chart. This is the first depth chart since spring football ended and includes players who have recovered from injuries as well as few new faces who impressed during summer workouts. That said, it's still a pre-training camp depth chart, so its utility is somewhat limited. But let's take a look at it anyway:
|POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING||POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING|
|QB||NATHAN STANLEY (So)||TYLER WIEGERS (Jr)||LE||
ANTHONY NELSON (So)
MATT NELSON (Jr)
|RB||AKRUM WADLEY (Sr)||
TOREN YOUNG (RS Fr)
TOKS AKINRIBADE (So)
|DT||CEDRICK LATTIMORE (So)||BRADY REIFF (So)|
|FB||DRAKE KULICK (Sr)||
BRADY ROSS (So)
AUSTIN KELLY (Jr)
|DT||NATHAN BAZATA (Sr)||GARRETT JANSEN (So)|
|WR||MATT VANDEBERG (Sr)||ADRIAN FALCONER (Jr)||RE||PARKER HESSE (Jr)||SAM BRINCKS (Jr)|
|WR||NICK EASLEY (Jr)||DEVONTE YOUNG (So)||OLB||BEN NIEMANN (Sr)||KEVIN WARD (Sr)|
|TE||NOAH FANT (So)||NATE WIETING (So)||MLB||JOSEY JEWELL (Sr)||
JACK HOCKADAY (Jr)
KRISTIAN WELCH (So)
|TE||T.J. HOCKENSON (RS Fr)||PETER PEKAR (Sr)||WLB||BO BOWER (Sr)||
AMANI JONES (So)
AARON MENDS (Jr)
|LT||BOONE MYERS (Sr)||ALARIC JACKSON (RS Fr)||LCB||JOSHUA JACKSON (Jr)||MICHAEL OJEMUDIA (So)|
|LG||KEEGAN RENDER (Jr)||ROSS REYNOLDS (Jr)||SS||MILES TAYLOR (Sr)||NOAH CLAYBERG (Fr)|
|C||JAMES DANIELS (Jr)||
SPENCER WILLIAMS (RS Fr)
COLE BANWART (RS Fr)
|FS||JAKE GERVASE (Jr)||AMANI HOOKER (So)|
|RG||SEAN WELSH (Sr)||LEVI PAULSEN (So)||RCB||MANNY RUGAMBA (So)||CEDRIC BOSWELL (RS Fr)|
|RT||IKE BOETTGER (Sr)||LUCAS LEGRAND (Jr)||LS||TYLER KLUVER (Sr)||--|
|K||KEITH DUNCAN (So)||
MIGUEL RECINOS (Jr)
CALEB SHADUK (RS Fr)
|P||COLTEN RASTETTER (So)||???|
|KR||DEVONTE YOUNG (So)||MATT VANDEBERG (Sr)||PR||DEVONTE YOUNG (So)||MATT VANDEBERG (Sr)|
A few thoughts:
- While Ferentz has insisted (and will likely continue to insist) that the QB race is a dead heat between Stanley and Wiegers, the depth chart doesn't quite reflect that. There's no OR between them; it lists Stanley first, Wiegers second. Our operating assumption all offseason has been that Stanley will be the man lining up under center when Iowa kicks off the season against Wyoming on September 1; it seems like it's going to take a big performance from Wiegers during training camp to change that.
- The RB depth chart is probably most notable for who isn't listed there, our shiny new grad transfer toy, James Butler. I wouldn't stress about that; he's listed in the new media guide and his absence from the depth chart is likely a result of the fact that he hasn't even officially practiced with Iowa yet. He'll be listed on the post-training camp depth chart.
- The other RB news is that Toren Young is listed along with Toks Akinribade behind Wadley (Young is actually ahead of Akinribade, for what that's worth). Ultimately, both guys are fighting for RB3 carries with Butler on the team, though.
- The other noticeable change on the offensive depth chart is at WR and TE where Iowa has gone from listing three wide receiver slots and one tight end slot to two wide receiver and two tight end slots. On one hand, I wouldn't get too excited about this -- it's not like the previous depth chart listings were a sure indicator of how Iowa would line up to start every game (also, this formation -- just like the 3 WR/1 TE formation -- would involve Iowa putting 12 men on the field if they also started a RB and a FB; playing 12 men at a time is still illegal, last time I checked). On the other hand, maybe it says something about Iowa's depleted wide receiver corps and Brian Ferentz's intention to focus more on the tight end role in Iowa's offensive schemes? Perhaps!
- The wide receiver slots themselves list VandeBerg and JUCO walk-on Nick Easley as starters, with Falconer and Young as their respective backups. That said, outside of VandeBerg starting, I wouldn't take any listing of the WR depth chart as gospel right now; the incoming freshmen should have every opportunity to earn a spot on the depth chart during training camp (aka, SAVE US_BRANDON SMITH).
- The most interesting note about the tight end listings is that Fant and Hockenson are listed as starters, while Iowa's most experienced tight end, senior Peter Pekar, is listed as Hockenson's backup. Fant and Hockenson would appear to have higher ceilings as pass catchers than Pekar (who is primarily a blocking tight end), but still: experience and blocking ability are usually surefire ways to rise up the tight end depth chart. Tight end figures to play a very big role in Iowa's offense this fall and this gives us a hint of who might be the primary targets at that position.
- The only change of note on the offensive line depth chart is Lucas LeGrand moving from center to back-up RT (an unusual switch) and Williams and Banwart replacing him behind James Daniels on the center depth chart. Daniels figures to be Iowa's locked-in starter at center for 2017 and 2018, but one of Williams or Banwart (both RS freshmen) would appear to be his eventual replacement.
- And, hey, Keith Duncan has some backups at kicker again! Miguel Recinos, who handled some longer kicks last year, is listed, as well as new face Caleb Shaduk.
- The defensive side of the ball doesn't contain too many changes on the depth chart. Matt and Anthony Nelson are listed as co-starters at left end; as we've talked about, though, regardless of who starts, both guys figure to see a lot of action this fall. Super-phenom A.J. Epenesa is not listed on this depth chart, although that's down to the same reason that James Butler isn't listed: he hasn't even had an official practice with Iowa yet. It would not be a shock if he was listed as a back-up on the post-training camp depth chart.
- Garrett Jansen is back as Nathan Bazata's backup at DT and Kristian Welch and Aaron Mends (!) are again listed as backups at LB, but otherwise the front seven looks pretty unchanged on Iowa's defensive depth chart.
- The secondary looks a little different, primarily due to Brandon Snyder's unfortunate ACL injury during spring practice. He's expected to miss most (if not all) of the season and so Jake Gervase slots in as the new starting free safety. Meanwhile, Amani Hooker is listed at backup FS and grayshirt Noah Clayberg is listed at backup SS.
- Devonte Young and Matt VandeBerg remain listed as the top two options at punt returner and kick returner, which figures to still be true after training camp unless someone (perhaps one of the freshmen wide receivers?) really looks impressive.
- Finally, there is still no backup punter for Colten Rastetter; can we dig up another Coluzzi somewhere?
Anything jump out to you? Hit up the comments to let us know.