Hey, a depth chart! At last Iowa football has emerged from its slumber and with the start of the season just over two weeks again we have a new depth chart for the 2020 campaign, the first new depth chart since the pre-Holiday Bowl depth chart last December, as a matter of fact. There are a lot of changes, many expected, but also a few surprises. Let's dive right in...
|POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING||POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING|
|QB||SPENCER PETRAS (So)||ALEX PADILLA (RS Fr)||DE||CHAUNCEY GOLSTON (Sr)||LOGAN LEE (RS Fr)|
|RB||TYLER GOODSON (So)||
MEKHI SARGENT (Sr) /
IVORY KELLY-MARTIN (Jr)
|DT||DAVIYON NIXON (Jr)||
JACK HEFLIN (Sr)
NOAH SHANNON (So)
|FB||MONTE POTTEBAUM (So)||TURNER PALLISSARD (So)||DT||AUSTIN SCHULTE (Sr)||JOHN WAGGONER (So)|
|WR||BRANDON SMITH (Sr)||TYRONE TRACY, JR (So)||DE||ZACH VANVALKENBURG (Sr)||JOE EVANS (So)|
|WR||IHMIR SMITH-MARSETTE (Sr)||NICO RAGAINI (So)||LEO / CASH||BARRINGTON WADE (Sr)||DANE BELTON (So)|
|TE||SAM LAPORTA (So)||SHAUN BEYER (Sr)||MLB||JACK CAMPBELL (So)||SETH BENSON (So)|
|LT||ALARIC JACKSON (Sr)||JACK PLUMB (So)||WLB||NICK NIEMANN (Sr)||JESTIN JACOBS (RS Fr)|
|LG||CODY INCE (So)||LUKE EMPEN (So)||LCB||MATT HANKINS (Sr)||JULIUS BRENTS (So)|
|C||TYLER LINDERBAUM (So)||JUSTIN BRITT (RS Fr)||FS||JACK KOERNER (Jr)||KAEVON MERRIWEATHER (So)|
|RG||KYLER SCHOTT (Jr)||NOAH FENSKE (RS Fr)||SS||DANE BELTON (So)||SEBASTIAN CASTRO (RS Fr)|
|RT||MARK KALLENBERGER (Jr)||COY CRONK (Sr)||RCB||RILEY MOSS (Jr)||TERRY ROBERTS (So)|
|K||KEITH DUNCAN (Sr)||CALEB SHUDAK (Sr)||P||TORY TAYLOR (Fr)||
RYAN GERSONDE (JR) /
NICK PHELPS (So)
|KR||IHMIR SMITH-MARSETTE (Sr)||--||PR||MAX COOPER (Sr)||--|
As expected, Petras is your QB1 and Padilla (the only other QB who's been on campus longer than a few months) is your QB2. Barring injuries, I wouldn't expect many changes here.
Goodson enters the 2020 season as he finished the 2019 season: as the locked-in starter. Sargent and Kelly-Martin (returning from a redshirt last year) are your primary backups.
Iowa is still continuing to list fullbacks on the depth chart, even though fullbacks see the field on an ever-shrinking number of plays. Fullbacks will probably never go away completely at Iowa so long as Ferentz is here, but their role is certainly reduced. Pottebaum and Pallisard are your guys when Iowa does need a lead blocker for the halfback; both have played only sparingly to this point.
The depth chart still lists just two wide receivers as "starters" as well, even though three-wide has become a pretty standard look for the Iowa offense in recent years. Smith and Smith-Marsette are your "official" starters, but you can probably consider Ragaini a starter as well -- unless Tracy usurps him for the slot role, that is.
Slammin' Sam LaPorta ended the season last year as Iowa's top tight end and that's reflected on the depth chart here. Shaun Beyer will also see a lot of reps as Iowa's main "blocker-first" tight end, of course.
Offensive line is where we start to see a few surprises, although not at left tackle where Alaric Jackson is back to hold down the left side of the line for the third straight season, with Jack Plumb being groomed as his understudy.
Cody Ince being listed as the starter at LG isn't a huge surprise -- it sounded like there was a good battle going on between him, Justin Britt, and Cole Banwart for the other starting guard spot on this offensive line. The bigger surprise is that Banwart isn't listed anywhere on the two-deeps, despite getting talked up just a few days ago. Hopefully his absence here isn't injury-related.
Tyler Linderbaum, fresh off an impressive debut season as a redshirt frosh, is your listed starter at center. He's going to be one of the key figures on that unit this year -- and maybe for the entire Iowa offense, given the inexperience Iowa has at QB. Justin Britt being listed as his backup is interesting; is Britt being groomed to replace Linderbaum if he leaves early for the NFL after this season (or next)? I think it's a good bet that Britt will be starting somewhere on the interior of Iowa's OL in 2021.
Kyler Schott returns as a starter at right guard after a pretty good year (when healthy) in 2019. Redshirt frosh Noah Fenske and sophomore Luke Empen are your listed backups at the guard positions; I believe both are making their depth chart debuts.
Finally, Mark Kallenberger is your official starter at right tackle for now, ahead of Coy Cronk. Kallenberger was a high-profile recruit (in the same class as Tristan Wirfs, now making millions in the NFL) so seeing him on the depth chart is no surprise -- but Cronk was a high-profile grad transfer from Indiana who many (us included) expected to start. This is still just a preseason depth chart, of course, so what it says may not matter that much, but this will be an interesting position to monitor in Iowa's season opener against Purdue.
The defensive line also holds a few surprises. Chauncey Golston remains your starter at left end, although new face Logan Lee (a redshirt freshman who started at Iowa as a tight end) is listed as his backup. Golston is the most experienced member of Iowa's defensive line and will need to be the leader of this unit in 2020.
His opposite number is Zach VanValkenburg, who has the unenviable task of trying to replace A.J. Epenesa at right tackle. Good luck, Zach. His listed backup is Joe Evans, who seems to be more of a pass rush specialist at this point in his Iowa career; expect to see him mostly on third downs or in obvious passing situations.
The starters at defensive tackle are Austin Schulte and Daviyon Nixon; they were the primary backups to last year's starters (Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff), so seeing them move up a line on the depth chart is no surprise. Will Schulte be able to keep a starting job ahead of Northern Illinois grad transfer Jack Heflin? That will be a position to watch. (Although unlike RT, where the starter will play a strong majority of the snaps, Iowa will rotate a lot at DT, so both Schulte and Heflin are likely to see a lot of action at DT, regardless of who is the official starter.) And the other big surprise: John Waggoner is a defensive tackle now?! We're very curious about that situation; he's been listed as a defensive end for his entire Iowa career to this point and Iowa's depth at tackle appears stronger than it does at end, so moving Waggoner to tackle is definitely eyebrow-raising.
Beefed-up Jack Campbell (now listed at 6'5", 243 lbs!) is your starter at middle linebacker, with Nick Niemann sliding in as the starter at weakside linebacker. The middle linebacker succession plan hit a slight bump in the road with the departure of Dillon Doyle in the offseason, but Campbell was highly regarded out of Cedar Falls and appears to be a solid option to man the middle. Niemann has been a steady contributor at various linebacker positions in the Iowa defense over the last few years. Seth Benson (at MLB) and Jestin Jacobs (at WLB) are your top backups at linebacker (along with Barrington Wade). Jacobs has also been beefing up; he's now listed at 6'4", 235 lbs.
The depth chart continues to struggle a bit with the cash versus outside linebacker (or LEO) position. But basically when Iowa plays a 4-3 with a OLB, Barrington Wade will be in that role. When they play a 4-2-5 with the cash role, Dane Belton will be in that role. Iowa's defense has been trending toward much more 4-2-5 over the last few years, so expect to see a lot of Belton.
Speaking of... Belton is also your listed starter at strong safety, with Sebastian Castro as his listed backup. When Iowa lines up in a 4-3, Belton will move back to strong safety; when Iowa lines up in a 4-2-5, he'll move up to the cash role and Castro will (seemingly) take over as strong safety. I think the main way to read this is that the coaches really like Belton and are going to make sure he's on the field as much as possible for the defense. Jack Koerner remains your starter at free safety, with Kaevon Merriweather as the main listed backup there. Could Merriweather slide over to strong safety at times? Maybe, although you'd think he'd be listed as Belton's main backup if that's really what Iowa was planning to do.
Matt Hankins returns as one of Iowa's starting cornerbacks, backed up by Julius Brents on the left side. Riley Moss replaces Michael Ojemudia as Iowa's other starting cornerback, backed up by Terry Roberts on the right. Moss has been up and down during his first two years at Iowa, so it will be interesting to see how he fares this season -- and how long a leash he's given as a starter. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has identified and ruthlessly exploited the weakest link in Iowa's secondary in the last two Iowa-Purdue games, so all of Iowa's corners better be very ready to play in two weeks.
Keith Duncan, the People's Lou Groza Award winner, remains your starting kicker, backed up by Caleb Shudak. Aussie import Tory Taylor is listed as your starting punter, although Iowa also has some TRI-PUNTER energy going on here, listing a total of three punters (Taylor, Ryan Gersonde, and Nick Phelps). What a time to be alive.
The only listed returners are ISM on kickoffs and Max Cooper on punts. I suspect they have not worked on returns too much in practice to this point, so those roles are probably somewhat tenuous -- or at least the punt returner role might be. ISM is a lock to be Iowa's main kick returner considering his excellent performances there last season.
- Finally, Austin Spiewak is your long snapper.