The season is drawing ever closer for Iowa football -- Big Ten Media Days get underway today and the start of practice is just around the corner. Which means it's time for a new depth chart. This depth chart isn't too different from the spring depth chart we saw a few months ago, but let's take a look at it anyway:
|POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING||POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING|
|QB||NATHAN STANLEY (Sr)||PEYTON MANSELL (SO)||DE||CHAUNCEY GOLSTON (Jr)||JOHN WAGGONER (RS Fr)|
|RB||MEKHI SARGENT (Jr)||TOREN YOUNG (Jr)||DT||CEDRICK LATTIMORE (Sr)||
DAVIYON NIXON (So) /
AUSTIN SCHULTE (Jr)
|FB||BRADY ROSS (Sr)||JOE LUDWIG (So)||DT||BRADY REIFF (Sr)||NOAH SHANNON (RS Fr)|
|WR||BRANDON SMITH (Jr)||CALVIN LOCKETT (RS Fr)||DE||A.J. EPENESA (Jr)||AMANI JONES (Sr)|
|WR||IHMIR SMITH-MARSETTE (Jr)||TYRONE TRACY, JR (RS Fr)||OLB / 5¢||
BARRINGTON WADE (Jr) /
D.J. JOHNSON (RS Fr)
|WR||NICO RAGAINI (RS Fr)||TYRONE TRACY, JR (RS Fr)||MLB||KRISTIAN WELCH (Sr)||DILLON DOYLE (RS Fr)|
|TE||NATE WIETING (Sr)||SHAUN BEYER (Jr)||WLB||DJIMON COLBERT (So)||NICK NIEMANN (Jr)|
|LT||ALARIC JACKSON (Jr)||MARK KALLENBERGER (So)||CB||MICHAEL OJEMUDIA (Sr)||JULIUS BRENTS (So)|
|LG||LANDAN PAULSEN (Sr)||CODY INCE (RS Fr)||FS||KAEVON MERRIWEATHER (So)||JACK KOERNER (So)|
|C||TYLER LINDERBAUM (RS Fr)||JEFF JENKINS (RS Fr)||SS||GENO STONE (Jr)||DEVONTE YOUNG (Sr)|
|RG||COLE BANWART (Jr)||LEVI PAULSEN (Sr)||CB||MATT HANKINS (Jr)||RILEY MOSS (So)|
|RT||TRISTAN WIRFS (Jr)||JACK PLUMB (RS Fr)||LS||JACKSON SUBBERT (Sr)||NATE VEJVODA (Sr)|
CALEB SHUDAK (Jr) /
KEITH DUNCAN (Jr)
COLTEN RASTETTER (Sr) /
RYAN GERSONDE (So)
|KR||IHMIR SMITH-MARSETTE (Jr)||--||PR||IHMIR SMITH-MARSETTE (Jr)||--|
A few thoughts:
QB and RB remain unchanged. No shock on QB -- barring injury, Stanley is locked-in as the starter at QB. It will be interesting to see if anyone is able to push Mansell for the QB2 role this summer, though. If healthy, Ivory Kelly-Martin could work his way into the depth chart at RB (he was listed as the starter there for much of last season), but otherwise Sargent and Young seem likely to maintain those roles until the season begins.
Iowa's gone back to listing three WRs and a TE instead of two WRs and two TEs as they did last season (and for the spring depth chart). This makes sense, given the uncertainty at TE. The big beneficiary of this move looks to be Nico Ragiani, who's listed as a starting WR here (likely in the slot position). Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette are the other listed starters, with Tyrone Tracy, Jr. and Calvin Lockett (a new face to the depth chart) listed as the back-ups. Iowa's depth chart contains three redshirt freshmen at wide receiver, so we're certainly hoping youth will be served at that position this year.
Along the offensive line, the only changes are in the interior, where Tyler Linderbaum, freshly moved to center from defensive tackle during Outback Bowl prep last December, is now listed as the starting center and Cole Banwart is the top right guard. The coaches have been very high on Linderbaum and the buzz around him has been strong, but Iowa is going to be very young at center -- both listed options (Linderbaum and back-up Jeff Jenkins) are RS freshmen. There will probably be some growing pains there.
The starters at defensive line are the same as they were on the previous depth chart -- A.J. Epenesa and Chauncey Golston at end, with Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff at tackle -- but there are a few new faces among the backups. The much-anticipated Daviyon Nixon makes his depth chart debut as a backup to Lattimore at DT and Amani Jones is now listed as Epy's backup at RE. Jones had been a LB up to this point at Iowa, but the idea of him being unleashed as a pass rusher is a pretty intriguing notion.
Iowa's depth chart now lists OLB/5¢ as a position, which is an acknowledgement of the "cash" position that Amani Hooker originated last year. In a 4-3 formation, Barrington Wade looks like the top option at OLB, while RS freshman defensive back D.J. Johnson is being tabbed as the heir apparent to Hooker in the "cash" role on this depth chart when Iowa's in a nickel look.
Kristian Welch and Djimon Colbert are currently listed as the starters at the two inside linebacker spots, though I suspect that Nick Niemann will be very much in contention there as well.
Matt Hankins and Michael Ojemudia remain the starters at cornerback and Julius Brents and Riley Moss remain their primary backups. Kaevon Merriweather and Geno Stone are still the listed starters at safety, but the depth chart now lists walk-on Jack Koerner as Merriweather's backup and converted wide receiver Devonte Young as Stone's backup at SS. That's an interesting move.
Both kicking positions are listed with an OR -- Keith Duncan or Caleb Shudak at placekicker and Colten Rastetter or Ryan Gersonde at punter. We'll have to see if anyone can get some separation in those roles during summer practice or if the competition will go into the season.
- Finally, it's worth noting that these two-deeps don't really include any summer arrivals, either from transfers or incoming recruits. Iowa added grad transfer punter Michael Sleep-Dalton from Arizona State and he should be in the mix with Gersonde and Rastetter; it would be a huge surprise if he wasn't on the next depth chart we see (hopefully as the starting punter). Iowa also added grad transfer Zach VanValkenburg at defensive end and he could figure into the two-deeps once he's been able to practice with the team a bit. And if Oliver Martin is able to get a waiver to be eligible to play this fall, he'd certainly factor into the depth chart at WR.
Thoughts? Let us hear 'em.