Several of Iowa's winter sports ended in a cruel thud over the weekend, and while there are several spring sports still ongoing, we can also spare a bit of attention for next fall and the return of Iowa football. And now we actually have something to talk about, as Iowa released a new depth chart for the 2022 spring football session.
|POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING||POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING|
|QB||SPENCER PETRAS (Sr)||
ALEX PADILLA (Jr)
JOE LABAS (RS Fr)
|DE||JOHN WAGGONER (Sr)||MAX LLEWELLYN (RS Fr)|
|RB||GAVIN WILLIAMS (So)||LESHON WILLIAMS (So)||DT||NOAH SHANNON (Sr)||LUKAS VAN NESS So)|
|FB||MONTE POTTEBAUM (Sr)||TURNER PALLISSARD (Sr)||DT||LOGAN LEE (Jr)||YAHYA BLACK (So)|
|WR||KEAGAN JOHNSON (So)||JACKSON RITTER (Jr)||DE||JOE EVANS (Sr)||DEONTAE CRAIG (So)|
|WR||NICO RAGAINI (Sr)||
CHARLIE JONES (Sr)
ARLAND BRUCE IV (So)
|CASH / LEO||SEBASTIAN CASTRO (Jr)||
JESTIN JACOBS (Jr)
LOGAN KLEMP (Sr)
|TE||SAM LAPORTA (Sr)||LUKE LACHEY (So)||MLB||JACK CAMPBELL (Sr)||JAY HIGGINS (Jr)|
|LT||MASON RICHMAN (So)||DAVID DAVIDKOV (RS Fr)||WLB||SETH BENSON (Sr)||KYLER FISHER (Jr)|
|LG||JUSTIN BRITT (Jr)||BEAU STEPHENS (RS Fr)||LCB||JERMARI HARRIS (Jr)||COOPER DEJEAN (So)|
|C||TYLER ELSBURY (So)||
MATT FAGAN (Sr)
LOGAN JONES (So)
|FS||QUINN SCHULTE (Jr)||JAXON REXROTH (RS Fr)|
|RG||CONNOR COLBY (So)||JOSH VOLK (So)||SS||KAEVON MERRIWEATHER (Sr)||SEBASTIAN CASTRO (Jr)|
|RT||JACK PLUMB (Sr)||NICK DEJONG (Jr)||RCB||RILEY MOSS (Sr)||TERRY ROBERTS (Sr)|
|LS||LUKE ELKIN (So)||LIAM REARDON (So)|
|K||AARON BLOM (So)||LUCAS AMAYA (Jr)||P||TORY TAYLOR (Jr)||NICK PHELPS (Sr)|
|KR||CHARLIE JONES (Sr)||GAVIN WILLIAMS (So)||PR||CHARLIE JONES (Sr)||--|
A few thoughts:
No big surprises at QB since both Petras and Padilla opted to return for the 2022 season. We do have a Joe Labas sighting on the depth chart, which is nice to see. Can he make a real push for the QB1 job in spring and summer practices? That will certainly be a storyline to watch over the next six months.
Tyler Goodson and Ivory Kelly-Martin are both gone, which means RB is now in the hands of Williams... and Williams. Gavin gets the starting nod here, with Leshon as the backup. I'm betting both guys will get quite a bit of work, though.
No changes at FB, in case you were worried -- it's still the Pottebaum & Pallissard show there.
Sam LaPorta's decision to return for a senior year also leaves TE unchanged from what it was at the end of 2021: LaPorta as TE1, Lachey as TE2. Iowa's depth beyond that has some question marks, though, as Elijah Yelverton has left the program.
What do we make of WR? Essentially everyone returns from next year, with the exception of Tyrone Tracy, Jr. I can't recall if Hunter Ritter has been on the two-deeps before, but he's listed here as the backup to Johnson. Two-deeps are never etched in stone and WR two-deeps even less so, which is especially true for spring two-deeps. The most important things are which guys are getting the most snaps and targets. I'd expect that to be Johnson, Jones, Ragaini, and hopefully Bruce as well. We'll have to see who emerges as the Spring Practice Star at WR; there's always one...
Lots of movement at OL. This was your Outback Bowl starting OL: Plumb-Schott-Linderbaum-Colby-DeJong. This is your current starting OL: Richman-Britt-Elsbury-Colby-Plumb. Exactly one guy (Colby) in the same spot that he was in for that Outback Bowl game. Plumb, Richman, and Britt all have experience, though, including several games each at the positions they're listed at here. Elsbury, who ended the year as RT2, has the unenviable task of being the guy to try and fill Tyler Linderbaum's shoes at C. I would expect to see Iowa experiment with a lot of different combinations on the OL during the spring. Hopefully they find one that clicks, though, because OL play is one area where Iowa is in immense need of improvement for 2022.
The defensive side of the ball is a bit more static, at least in terms of the front seven. That said, the only change to the DL is a big one, with the departure of Zach VanValkenburg at DE. He'll certainly be missed. Joe Evans gets first crack at replacing him, it seems. But aside from that (and the addition of Max Llewellyn as a new DE option), the DL two-deeps are identical to what Iowa was using at the end of last year. Iowa rotated pretty heavily at DL, aside from ZVV (who played a very high percentage of defensive snaps last year), and I'd expect that to continue in 2022.
The starters also return at LB, with Campbell and Benson back at MLB and WLB and Jacobs back at OLB. That is now a swing role with the cash position in the Iowa defense, of course. Dane Belton made that position his own over the last two seasons, but Iowa's in need of a new face there now. Sebastian Castro will get the first shot at replacing Belton, it seems. I'm excited to see what he can do with that opportunity.
The secondary features a lot more new faces for the Iowa defense. Jermari Harris retains the starting CB role that he took over at the end of last season with injuries to Matt Hankins and Terry Roberts. Riley Moss' decision to return to Iowa provides Iowa with a very capable starter opposite Harris, and a healthy Roberts should be a solid option as a nickel corner. Cooper DeJean is listed as Harris' backup and he flashed some ability in limited appearances last year.
No changes at SS with Merriweather and Castro both back, but Jack Koerner's departure at FS means we have a new starter at FS, but if you didn't think it would be a former in-state walk-on... well, you haven't been paying attention, have you? Quinn Schulte backed up Koerner for a few years and is listed as FS1 here. In a "that's so Iowa" move, his backup is not just a fellow in-state walk-on.. it's a fellow in-state walk-on from the exact same school: Jaxon Rexroth (WHAT A NAME) and Schulte both went to Cedar Rapids Xavier. Of course, while he's not listed here (no true freshmen are), this is obviously a spot where we'll be watching the progress of incoming 5* recruit Xavier Nwankpa. He enrolled early in January, so he's on campus now and will be going through spring practice; I would be pretty surprised if he doesn't show up in the final spring two-deeps.
Tory Taylor is back as the starting punter, with Nick Phelps replacing the graduated Ryan Gersonde as his listed backup. The other specialist is a new face, though, as Caleb Shudak's departure provides an opportunity for Aaron Blom and Lucas Amaya. Iowa has had remarkably consistent (and good) kickers for a while now, which has played a key role in their success over the last 5-6 years; hopefully either Blom or Amaya can keep that tradition going.
- Charlie Jones remains the main guy at both PR and KR, which is unsurprising. He's a very good return man, after all.
So that's the two-deeps, at least as they stand for the beginning of 2022 spring football. Thoughts? Concerns? Let us know in the comments below.