Positional Awareness is our annual rundown of the Iowa depth chart, from the position where we are most confident in what Kirk Ferentz intends to do to, well, tight end.
THE BIG UNIT
NATHAN STANLEY (#4, Senior, 6'4, 243 lbs., Menomonie, Menomonie, WI)
Nate Stanley will close out his career as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in Iowa history. As it stands right now, he’s top 10 in multiple categories in the record books:
- 4th in career passing touchdowns: 52
- 5th in total touchdowns: 53
- 9th in career passing yards: 5,351
Another 2,600-yard season and he’ll finish his 3rd all-time in career passing yardage, behind only Chuck Long and Drew Tate. Another 26 touchdowns and he’ll finish #1 in career passing touchdowns and second in total touchdowns, behind only Chuck Long. He holds a spot in the top 10 for single-season passing yardage, passing touchdowns, total offense, and total touchdowns.
From year one to two as a starter, he improved in almost every category:
- Completion Percentage: 55.8 to 59.2
- Yards: 2,432 to 2,852
- Yards Per Attempt: 6.9 to 7.2
- Sacks: 22 to 12
- Fumbles: 7 to 2
He threw the same number of touchdowns, 26, and the only downside was his interceptions increasing from 6 to 10. Stanley showed us in year two that he was largely the same player, albeit more consistent, that he was in year one. He’s big, strong, and can throw the ball downfield. In year two he showed greater decisiveness, didn’t take as many sacks, and closed the season on a strong note. Against Mississippi State, one of the best defenses in the nation, he went 21/31 for 214 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
That isn’t to say that there weren’t some bad moments in 2018, like:
There was also the Penn State game, where he only had 8 completions through the first three quarters and somehow managed to overthrow a comically wide-open T.J. Hockenson by five feet. Stanley’s woes throwing the deep ball became less common as the season came to an end but yeah, they were still there:
Noah Fant TE#87 Iowa Hawkeyes. Para m el mejor TE si se presenta al prximo draft. Observad la aceleracin. Telita con el pase de Stanley BTW pic.twitter.com/0tYZzX7XIo— Los Cachorros NCAAF (@CachorrosNCAAF) November 23, 2018
And maybe we’re nitpicking at this point because we’re expecting someone who has been so consistent to be even better. Stanley has improved at throwing deep passes but he would probably have had 4-5 more touchdowns last year had he hit them.
With Hockenson, Fant, and Easley gone, it’s probably unreasonable to ask Stanley to put up the same numbers as he did last season. Yet, if he maintains the same level of play and somehow manages to increase his completion percentage to 60%, he won’t finish his career as one of Iowa’s most accomplished quarterbacks, he’ll finish as one of Iowa’s greatest quarterbacks.
THE GUNSLINGING TEXAN
PEYTON MANSELL (#2, Sophomore, 6'2, 208 lbs., Belton, Belton, TX)
Be honest with yourself: when you saw Mansell play last season you were like "Wait is that Drew Tate?" Now hold on I’m not saying “Peyton Mansell is the next Drew Tate” because he only played in five games and threw eight passes. I’m just saying that he scrambles like a madman, throws darts and forces the ball when he absolutely shouldn’t…just like Drew Tate!
Heading into spring football there was a supposed “competition” between Mansell and Petras but by all accounts, Mansell looked and played the part better.
Iowa hasn’t rolled with a dual-threat quarterback in more than a decade and won’t be rolling with one in 2019. In 2020 though…we could be wheeling and dealing with Peyton.
WHILE YOU WAIT FOR THE OTHERS
SPENCER PETRAS (#7, Redshirt Freshman, 6'5, 227 lbs., Marin Catholic, San Rafael, CA)
Petras played in two games last season, but thanks to the new rules he was able to redshirt and has four more years of eligibility left. He came to Iowa as one of the most intriguing recruits in recent memory as he was a 6’5", 4-star quarterback from California. He spent last year battling for the #2 spot but he ultimately ceded that role to Mansell. Now he’ll have another crack at trying to upend the gunslinging Texan with his pro-style technique. If anything is working against Mansell it’s Iowa’s tendency to favor a pocket passer, but his loss could be Spencer’s gain.
ALEX PADILLA (#8, Freshman, 6’1, 193 lbs., Cherry Creek, Greenwood Village, CO)
Like Petras, Padilla is a pro-style quarterback that was an unusual recruit as he came from the West. When was the last time Iowa even had a player from Colorado? Go on, look. You can’t figure it out, can you? That’s fine, because neither can I.
A 3-star recruit with a number of decent offers (and nearly every Ivy League school in existence), Padilla graduated early and joined Iowa this spring. He’s seemingly the odd man out with Mansell and Petras battling for the #2 spot, but quarterback is always a wild ride for the Hawkeyes so there’s a chance he could see playing time in the non-conference, even if he is #4 on the depth chart.
RYAN SCHMIDT (#17, Senior, 6'5, 237 lbs., Linn-Mar, Marion, IA)
CONNOR KAPISAK (#11, Redshirt Freshman, 6'5, 211 lbs., South Windsor, South Windsor, CT)
For the second consecutive year, Schmidt was named Academic All-Big Ten and for the third consecutive year, he didn’t see any playing time. I’m willing to bet he’ll keep up that trend in 2019.
Kapisak, a walk-on from Connecticut, will likely take the walk-on crown from Schmidt next season and just like his predecessor, will probably be Academic All-Big Ten for three consecutive seasons.