Early 2015 Hawkeye depth chart provides surprising wrinkles
IOWA CITY, Ia. -- The big news of Thursday's unusual January football depth-chart release by the University of Iowa was that C.J. Beathard was listed as the starting quarterback over Jake Rudock.
But there was still plenty of news tucked behind the news.
Yeah, it's a depth chart that was released six days after a 45-28 loss to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl and 240 days prior to the Sept. 5 season opener against Illinois State. Lots, gobs, tons can happen between now and then.
Someone's hurt badly. Somebody transfers out. Somebody transfers in. Spring practice vaults and demotes guys. Others change positions. A true freshman amazes upon arrival at summer camp.
But there are some clues inside the Jan. 8, 2015, depth chart (this hasn't been common practice in Kirk Ferentz's 16 years as head coach) worth mentioning:
•Let's start with the offensive line that loses 60 percent of its starters, including Outland Trophy-winning left tackle Brandon Scherff. The heir apparent, for now, is Boone Myers. That's a massive responsibility for a former walk-on from Webster City who has three years of eligibility remaining.
The right tackle spot previously held by Andrew Donnal is sophomore-to-be Ike Boettger's. The Cedar Falls native was "next man in" when Scherff got hurt against Ball State, but Scherff returned despite media reports the next week against Iowa State and, well, the rest is history. Boettger was a high school tight end who has beefed up quickly in college.
Austin Blythe moves back to center for his senior year, with Tommy Gaul gone, and the Welsh (Sean)/Walsh (Jordan) boys have the guard spots for now. But there are some interesting guys on the second team, including two freshmen — late Class of 2014 addition Ross Reynolds of Waukee (at left guard) and Keegan Render of Indianola (at right tackle).
•The "other" starting receiver opposite Tevaun Smith is junior Matt VandeBerg, not Jacob Hillyer. VandeBerg didn't see extensive action in his first two seasons, but he showed reliable hands when he did. He caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Beathard in the bowl game.
•Henry Krieger-Coble is listed on the 1 line along with Jake Duzey at tight end. That's interesting, considering Krieger-Coble missed the final three games after shoulder surgery and has never been in the mix as a starter and Duzey was easily the team's top pass-catching tight end. They'll collectively replace Ray Hamilton.
•Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels Jr. were 1-2 at running back, with Mark Weisman gone. Akrum Wadley, who will be a sophomore, received the first two carries for Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl but wasn't listed. Daniels' brother, James, is is an offensive lineman and one of the Hawkeyes' highest-rated verbal commitments in the Class of 2015.
•On defense, two guys that played as true freshmen are listed as starters — Ben Niemann (listed at outside linebacker) and Miles Taylor (at strong safety, replacing John Lowdermilk). Niemann's inclusion comes at the expense of Reggie Spearman, who started Iowa's first seven games of the season on the outside until he was arrested for OWI after the Maryland loss.
Spearman is listed as the second-team weak-side linebacker behind Bo Bower.
Josey Jewell has been moved inside to middle linebacker, earmarked to replace outgoing senior Quinton Alston.
•Who gets the first crack at replacing defensive tackles Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat? That'd be junior-to-be Jaleel Johnson and sophomore-to-be Nathan Bazata. Not listed in the two-deep was Darian Cooper, who was expected to be a top backup in 2014 but was lost for the season to knee surgery.
•Three guys who will be redshirt freshmen are listed on the second-team defense: defensive ends Parker Hesse of Waukon and Matt Nelson of Cedar Rapids, and strong safety Brandon Snyder of Larchwood.
Perhaps most intriguing of those depth-chart newbies is Nelson, who is listed at 6-foot-8, 255 pounds. He's listed at right end behind senior-to-be Nate Meier, who struggled this year in his first season at starter.
Ferentz is holding a news conference Wednesday in Iowa City. More details behind the details might be known then.
A FIRST (OFFICIAL) LOOK AT THE 2015 HAWKEYES
The 2015 Iowa depth chart in football, as released Thursday night. Second-semester classes begin Jan. 20:
SE—Tevaun Smith (6-2, 200, sr.); Jacob Hillyer (6-4, 208, sr.)
LT—Boone Myers (6-5, 285, soph.); Cole Croston (6-5, 270, jr.)
LG—Sean Welsh (6-3, 285, soph.); Ross Reynolds (6-4, 308, fr.)
C—Austin Blythe (6-3, 290, sr.); Eric Simmons (6-2, 295, sr.)
RG—Jordan Walsh (6-4, 290, sr.); Mitch Keppy (6-5, 298, jr.)
RT—Ike Boettger (6-6, 267, soph.); Keagan Render (6-4, 315, fr.)
TE—Henry Krieger-Coble (6-4, 250, sr.) OR Jake Duzey (6-4, 245, sr.)
WR—Matt VandeBerg (6-1, 185, jr.); Andrew Stone (5-11, 175, sr.)
QB—C.J. Beathard (6-2, 203, jr.); Jake Rudock (6-3, 208, sr.)
FB—Macon Plewa (6-2, 236, sr.); Adam Cox (5-11, 230, jr.)
RB—Jordan Canzeri (5-9, 192, sr.); LeShun Daniels Jr. (6-0, 230, jr.)
PK—Marshall Koehn (6-0, 195, sr.); Mick Ellis (5-10, 180, soph.)
LE—Nate Meier (6-2, 244, sr.); Matt Nelson (6-8, 255, fr.)
LT—Jaleel Johnson (6-4, 310, jr.); Faith Ekakitie (6-3, 287, jr.)
RT—Nathan Bazata (6-2, 284, soph.); Kyle Terlouw (6-4, 288, sr.)
RE—Drew Ott (6-4, 270, sr.); Parker Hesse (6-3, 215, fr.)
OLB—Ben Niemann (6-3, 205, soph.); Cole Fisher (6-2, 233, sr.)
MLB—Josey Jewell (6-2, 225, soph.); Travis Perry (6-3, 232, sr.)
WLB—Bo Bower (6-1, 220, soph.); Reggie Spearman (6-3, 230, jr.)
LC—Greg Mabin (6-2, 195, jr.); Maurice Fleming (6-0, 200, jr.)
SS—Miles Taylor (6-0, 185, soph.); Brandon Snyder (6-1, 190, fr.)
FS—Jordan Lomax (5-10, 200, sr.); Anthony Gair (6-2, 200, jr.);
RC—Desmond King (5-11, 190, jr.); Sean Draper (6-0, 190, sr.)
P—Connor Kornbrath (6-6, 240, sr.); Dillon Kidd (6-2, 230, sr.)