Big Ten Media Days means fall practices are right around the corner, and that means it's time for a new depth chart. It's not too different than the depth chart we had at the end of spring practice, but let's still take a look at it.
|POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING||POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING|
|QB||SPENCER PETRAS (Sr)||ALEX PADILLA (Jr)||DE||JOHN WAGGONER (Sr)||ETHAN HURKETT (So)|
|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)||ALEC WICK (RS Fr)||DE||JOE EVANS (Sr)||DEONTAE CRAIG (So)|
|WR||NICO RAGAINI (Sr)||ARLAND BRUCE IV (So)||LEO / CASH||JESTIN JACOBS (Jr)||COOPER DEJEAN (So)|
|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||TYLER ELSBURY (So)||MATT FAGAN (Sr)||LCB||JERMARI HARRIS (Jr)||TERRY ROBERTS (Sr)|
|C||LOGAN JONES (So)||MICHAEL MYSLINSKI (RS Fr)||FS||QUINN SCHULTE (Jr)||REGGIE BRACY (Jr)|
|RG||CONNOR COLBY (So)||BEAU STEPHENS (RS Fr)||SS||KAEVON MERRIWEATHER (Sr)||COOPER DEJEAN (So)|
|RT||JACK PLUMB (Sr)||NICK DEJONG (Jr)||RCB||RILEY MOSS (Sr)||BRANDON DEASFERNANDEZ (So)|
|LS||LUKE ELKIN (So)||LIAM REARDON (So)|
|K||AARON BLOM (So)||DREW STEVENS (Fr)||P||TORY TAYLOR (Jr)||NICK PHELPS (Sr)|
A few thoughts:
Joe Labas is gone from the second line at QB on the depth chart; I don't think there was much doubt, but it's going to be the Petras and Padilla show at QB this season, unless Iowa suffers a spate of injuries at the QB position.
The RB/FB portion of the backfield is also unchanged; let's get ready for Double Your Williams, Double Your Pleasure this fall, with lead blocking provided by Monte Pottebaum.
Also no changes at TE, where Sam LaPorta and Luke Lachey are hopefully primed to give Iowa its best 1-2 punch at tight end since the hallowed days of Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson (though L & L, uh, probably won't be a pair of first round NFL Draft picks).
The first notable change on offense is at wide receiver, where Charlie Jones is no longer present after opting to take his talents to (sigh) West Lafayette earlier this offseason. He was listed alongside Arland Bruce IV on the depth chart line behind Nico Ragaini after spring ball (his decision to transfer is starting to make more sense...), but now that spot is all Bruce. The other change at WR is Alec Wick replacing Jackson Ritter as the receiver behind Keagan Johnson. Ritter unfortunately suffered a season-ending injury so Iowa's already-thin wide receiver corps is, uh, even thinner now! Like Ritter, Wick is a walk-on and he's a potential "local boy does well" feel-good story (he played his high school ball at Regina in Iowa City), but it's fair to have serious concern about Iowa's options at the receiver position.
Offensive line also sees some shuffling. Justin Britt also suffered a season-ending injury, so the presumed starter at left guard -- and one of Iowa's most experienced offensive lineman -- is out for 2022, which isn't great news. Instead Tyler Elsbury is sliding over from center to be the starter at left guard, with Logan Jones moving up to replace Elsbury as Iowa's post-Linderbaum center of the future. Jones, like Linderbaum, came to Iowa slated for the defensive line, but has instead been switched to the other side of the ball and shown a lot of prowess as a blocker instead of a tackler. If his move from DL-to-center is half as successful as Linderbaum's was, I think Iowa will be in pretty good hands at center for the next few seasons. The last bit of musical chairs on the offensive line is at right guard, with Connor Colby the latest starter there. Iowa really needs a strong set of offensive linemen to emerge from fall practice this year; fingers crossed that happens with this crew.
Basically no changes at all along the defensive line, which looks like one of Iowa's deepest position units -- the starting four of Waggoner-Shannon-Lee-Evans looks very solid, but there are some super-exciting guys on the second line of the depth chart, too, like Van Ness, Black, and Craig. Hurkett was getting some good buzz last year before an injury cut his season short. And that's not even including someone like Aaron Graves, one of the most promising members of Iowa's 2022 recruiting class. Iowa's defensive line may not have a breakout superstar like A.J. Epenesa or Daviyon Nixon, but it seems to be loaded with talented dudes, which is a good position to be in.
Also no changes at linebacker, where Jack Campbell, Seth Benson, and Jestin Jacobs are again your top three. Campbell figures to be one of the main leaders for this Iowa defense and Benson and Jacobs look like more than capable deputies; one of the biggest questions marks for this unit might be how they can find ways to get Jacobs on the field more, as he's usually been the defender sacrificed when Iowa goes to nickel or dime looks.
Speaking of the defensive backs... Jermari Harris is officially listed as the starting cornerback opposite Riley Moss, which makes sense; he filled in at that spot last season after Matt Hankins went down with injuries and he proved to be a very capable replacement. But Harris is also going to miss Iowa's season opener against South Dakota State while serving a one-game suspension for OWI, which will give special teams stalwart Terry Roberts a chance to impress at cornerback. If Roberts plays well, he may hold on to that job.
In other notable secondary news, welcome to the "cash" role, Cooper DeJean. DeJean is a stud athlete and multi-sport high school star who saw action on special teams last year and briefly as a cornerback; now he's set to be Iowa's backup strong safety and the starter in the cash position. That position has a strong lineage from guys like Amani Hooker and Dane Belton; now it could be DeJean's platform to shine. He's been one of the most exciting -- and intriguing -- players on the Iowa roster since he committed; this should give him his biggest opportunity yet to impress.
Meanwhile, the other safety spots include walk-on Quinn Schulte holding on to his spot as the starting free safety, with Reggie Bracy the new name listed as the primary backup there. Notably absent from the two-deeps in the defensive backfield? 5* mega-recruit Xavier Nwankpa, who did enroll early and go through spring practice. Is it time to panic? No. Obviously not. We'll see if Nwankpa is able to crack the two-deeps after fall practice. But even if not he should see the field on special teams and quite possibly in certain packages on defense as well. Nwankpa is one of the most decorated recruits of the Ferentz era, yes, but he's also a true freshman playing in a demanding defensive scheme for a very detail-obsessed coach in Phil Parker.
- Special teams was a massive strength for Iowa last season, between the reliability of Caleb Shudak at kicker and the consistent production of Charlie Jones as a return man (and the general excellence of Tory Taylor at punter, of course), but there are a lot more question marks in that unit heading into 2022. Shudak's current replacement looks like sophomore kicker Aaron Blom. Iowa has had a great run at kicker of late, from Miguel Recinos to Keith Duncan to Shudak and having a reliable kicker is obviously critical for a team that plays as many low-scoring games as Iowa usually does. Jones' absence in the return game leaves Iowa with a completely blank slate there; no one was listed as a kickoff or punt returner on the current two-deeps. Arland Bruce's name has generated some buzz as a potential option there, as Iowa tries to find more ways to get the ball in his hands. Time will tell if Bruce (or whoever gets tabbed at the returner positions) can equal Jones' contributions. At least we can still rely on Tory Taylor at punter.
Thoughts? Concerns? Let's hear 'em below.