IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Drew Ott saga continues, amid frustration with everyone associated with Iowa football — especially the player, who is seeking a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA.
Ott’s position coach, Reese Morgan, said Wednesday that the defensive end has had his petition denied “several times” but is still in the appeal process for a medical hardship following elbow and knee surgeries during his shortened 2015 season.
“He has an appeal in again, and the process just seems to be extremely frustrating,” Morgan said, “because no one from the NCAA has talked to anybody in this building about it or him, OK? Which seems to be unusual.”
Not a word from the NCAA?
“He's written appeals. He has communicated. Our compliance people are going back and forth trying to help out,” Morgan said. “But, yeah, it's — you know, it's hard and you feel for him, because he just wants to know. He just wants to know: Can I get an agent? Can I continue to play? … What am I able to do?”
Iowa conducted its fourth of 15 spring practices Wednesday morning, all without Ott. He wouldn’t be practicing with the team anyway, after he tore the ACL in his right knee Oct. 10. But until word comes in, he’s treated as a graduate, so he’s unable to participate with current players. In the meantime, he’s working out with strength coach Chris Doyle and has attended the NFL Combine. At Iowa’s Pro Day on March 20, he measured 6-foot-4, 277 pounds.
Last week, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz thought some news might come in early April, which would be about 4½ months since Ott said he first filed paperwork.
Until then (or maybe later), we wait.
Iowa football practices are generally closed except for a few hours a year. On Wednesday, media got 30 to 40 minutes to watch some drills and stretching. A few notes:
-- Running back Derrick Mitchell Jr. had his left arm in a sling, and he was joined in plain clothes by cornerback Greg Mabin. Ferentz said last week both would be out for the spring after unspecified surgeries but would be back by June.
--Ferentz had also said cornerback Josh Jackson would probably miss spring practice, but he was out on the field in a red no-contact jersey. Iowa has the redshirt sophomore fielding (but not returning) punts to get comfortable there. Assistant LeVar Woods, who coaches the punt-return unit, said Jackson could eventually be a candidate to back up lead returner Desmond King.
“He has phenomenal ability and start-and-stop ability and he can hit the seam as fast as anybody,” Woods said, “and it's a matter of him getting confident.”
-- With offensive lineman James Daniels out for the spring, Iowa had listed Sean Welsh as the starting right guard and center. In practice, Welsh was lined up at center and Keegan Render of Indianola was elevated to No. 1 right guard. Welsh said he hasn’t played center since two Ohio high school all-star games, when he was the smallest lineman.
"Before spring break, (offensive line coach Brian Ferentz) let me know to start snapping the ball,” the junior said.
-- Sophomore wide receivers Jerminic Smith and Jay Scheel were the first two names to come from quarterback C.J. Beathard as guys who have stepped up in practice at a thin position. Four-star recruit Scheel's progress has been slowed by knee issues.
“He’s definitely healthy now. The coaches (saw) some of the catches he can make. He made some great catches over there on scouts, one-handed catches that a lot of guys can’t make," Beathard said. "They saw he’s got a lot of talent. It’s a matter of him and Jerminic just learning the offense and getting it down to a T, to where I can trust them out there like I did Tevaun (Smith) and Jake Hillyer.”