This is the second part of a look at Spring Football. Last week I talked about the offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks. This week, I’ll look at the quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs.
It all starts with James Vandenberg. If he stays healthy and has a good year, the Hawkeyes will have a good year.
All James did last year was pass for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Only two Iowa quarterbacks passed for more yards than James. Chuck Hartlieb did it twice and Chuck Long did it once… both were All-Big Ten quarterbacks.
Only two Hawkeye quarterbacks passed for more touchdowns than James; Chuck Long (27) and Brad Banks (26). Both finished second in Heisman voting their senior year.
I believe that whatever offense new coordinator Greg Davis comes up with James will take it and run. It wouldn’t surprise me if James has better stats this year than last.
Does that mean more wins? I hope so.
I was really disappointed when A.J. Derby decided to transfer.
Kirk Ferentz said it came as a surprise.
A.J. was asked by Kirk to switch to linebacker last fall when there were injuries at that position and the Hawks needed some depth.
I always wondered what would have happened if A.J. would have gone to the coach after the Bowl game and said that he really wanted to switch back to quarterback. Maybe the coach would have said okay and then Iowa wouldn’t have brought in junior college recruit Cody Sokol.
Hopefully Cody (6-2, 205) can redshirt this year and compete with Jake Ruddock for the starting spot in two seasons.
Cody put up some nice numbers at Scottsdale Community College last year, passing for 3,807 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Cody has Iowa ties. Born in Des Moines, he moved to Arizona when he was young. He has a strong arm and is already on campus which is also a plus.
Jake Ruddock (6-3, 200) has put on about 15 pounds under Chris Doyle and hopefully will get some snaps in one or two of Iowa’s first four games, which include Northern Illinois, UNI and Central Michigan.
Jake was a big-time recruit out of Florida and was named the Old Spice Player of the Year by USA Today.
Jake can make all the throws and is a pre-med major.
John Wienke (6-5, 220) is listed as the number one punter going into spring ball, but will get some snaps as the backup quarterback.
It will be interesting to see who is the number two quarterback before the first game next fall. Right now, it’s Jake.
The wide receiver position losses one of the best in Marvin McNutt. All Marvin did last season was catch 82 passes, which tied Kevin Kasper as the most ever for a Hawkeye. Marvin also broke the school single-season record with 1,315 yards in receptions and his 12 touchdowns catches last season is also a record.
Can you replace him? Maybe not, but the Hawkeyes do have some talent at wide out.
Keenan Davis is back for his senior season. The 6-3, 215 pound senior from Cedar Rapids caught 50 passes last year. In five of the last six years that would have led the team.
Keenan also had four touchdown receptions and 713 yards, and yet my homeboys from the Lodge (Mark) think he’s overrated because he had some dropped passes.
If Keenan can increase his receptions to 60 and double his touchdown catches, the Hawks can be successful.
“Keenan got some great experience last year,” said Kirk Ferentz. “He needs to take that next step.”
Kevonte Martin-Manley (6-0, 205) caught 30 passes as a redshirt freshman last fall. He had two big touchdown receptions against Pittsburgh in Iowa’s comeback win.
Redshirt freshman Jacob Hillyer (6-4, 205) and junior Don Shumpert (6-3, 190) are listed as backups. Both have good size, good speed and Don played on special teams.
Look for junior Jordon Cotton (6-1, 185) and senior Steven Staggs (6-3, 195) to get some looks. Steven caught five passes last year and Jordan saw action in two games. Jordan has battled injuries most of his career.
All of these receivers have a chance to play on special teams
It’s too bad we can’t be talking about Marcus Coker going into his junior season.
As a sophomore, Marcus pounded out 1,384 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. Only three other Hawkeyes– Shonn Greene (1,850), Tavian Banks (1,691) and Sedrick Shaw (1,477) rushed for more yards in a single season.
Shonn had 20 TDs, Tavian 17, Sedrick and Marcus had 15, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Marcus was suspended from the bowl game, said he would be coming back and then left before the second semester started.
The cupboard isn’t bare, but the running backs will not have a lot of experience and Iowa will probably have to rely on a couple of freshman coming in next fall.
Jordan Canzeri (5-9,186) starts the spring as the number one running back.
Jordan was the “next man in” last season as he replaced Coker for the bowl game. He had 58 yards on 22 carries against the tough Oklahoma defense. Jordan also caught six passes for 28 yards, including a touchdown.
Some people are questioning his size, but I remember Fred Russell, probably smaller than Jordan, putting up two straight years with over 1,000 yards.
In 2002, when the Hawks won the Big Ten, Fred ran 220 times for 1,264 and nine touchdowns.
Fred followed that up in 2003 with 282 carries, 1,355 yards and seven TDs. He was listed at 5-8, 190 his senior year at Iowa.
This story was written last week and word coming out of spring ball is that Jordan tore his ACL in a non-contact drill in practice and most likely will redshirt next fall …t his is not fair.
The running backs that have left the program since Shonn Greene was named first team All American in 2008 has been well documented.
It looks like it will be the “next man in” for the “next man in.”
Right now it’s Damon Bullock (6-0, 195).
Damon played running back and wide receiver last year as a true freshman, so at least he got a few snaps. He played in six games last fall, had 10 carries for 20 yards, caught a pass and had two kickoff returns.
Redshirt sophomore De’Andre Johnson (5-9, 200) is listed as the number two man. He played in four games last fall and rushed for 79 yards with 18 carries.
Former Cedar Rapids prep Andre Dawson (6-2, 207), who walked on at Iowa this spring, might get a shot for some carries if he doesn’t switch to defensive back.
Andre went to UNI straight out of high school and then transferred to Iowa Western Community College last fall where he ran for 263 yards on 47 carries and scored three times.
Look for a couple of freshman to get a shot at playing time next fall.
I’ll talk more about them in August.
Next week I’ll look at the defensive line and linebackers.