Iowa's Jay Scheel moves into a (shared) starting role

Chad Leistikow

CHICAGO, Ill. — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and his three top players won’t appear at the Big Ten Conference’s media days until Tuesday. But there was some notable depth-chart news from the Hawkeye camp Monday morning with the digital release of the 2016 media guide.

Redshirt sophomore Jay Scheel, who has zero career catches but plenty of promise, has moved to the co-No. 1 line at split end with true sophomore Jerminic Smith in the battle to replace graduated Tevaun Smith.

Jay Scheel signs autographs before the Hawkeyes' spring game on April 23.

Scheel had a big spring, and the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Union High School product who once dazzled Iowa’s coaches with his state-playoff performances as a quarterback, seems to be on the rise.

“He has been fighting (knee) injuries from his high school days; it’s been a long road for him,” Ferentz was quoted as saying in the media guide. “At the end of bowl prep in December, we saw him moving around like we remembered him from high school.

“He looks to be healthy; he works hard and has a great attitude. It would not surprise me to see him ascend this year and start to take off; that would be great for the team as well.”

Who all-Big Ten quarterback C.J. Beathard throws to is one of the Hawkeyes’ biggest 2016 question marks. A highly productive Scheel would alleviate those concerns. Matt VandeBerg and Riley McCarron remain solidly on the No. 1 line at the other two receiver spots. Jonathan Parker and Adrian Falconer are the other listed backups, and of course Ryan Boyle has now officially moved to wideout and will be a factor.

More from Big Ten Media Days:

A few other depth-chart highlights:

Junior Sean Welsh (6-3, 290 — up two pounds) is listed as the first-team center, and sophomore James Daniels (6-4, 295) is for the first time listed as the starting right guard. Daniels was thought to be the heir apparent to Rimington Trophy finalist Austin Blythe at center, but he missed spring ball after off-season surgery — and Welsh took the first-team snaps.

The door remains open for those two to flip again, but Welsh (with 21 of his 23 career starts at guard, the other two at right tackle) is Iowa’s highest-grading blocker and brings experience to one of the team’s most important positions.

“We will let August determine what we are going to do in the season,” Ferentz said in the media guide, “but it doesn’t hurt to have two guys with experience at that position.”

— With Jameer Outsey gone from the program, walk-on junior Peter Pekar and junior Jon Wisnieski are on the depth chart for the first time as the co-No. 2 tight ends behind George Kittle. Given Iowa’s propensity for multiple tight end sets, this will be a battle worth watching throughout August. Both will likely play a lot.

— Dubuque native Lucas LeGrand, a redshirt sophomore, has moved into the backup role behind left guard Boone Myers, replacing fifth-year senior Ryan Ward.

Bo Bower has returned to a backup role. The junior from West Branch, who started 13 games as a freshman, was the No. 1 outside linebacker in spring ball with Ben Niemann out following surgery, but Niemann is back on the top line. Bower still could push Aaron Mends (bumped up another three pounds, to 6-1, 223) for the starting weak-side linebacker role.

Iowa's 2016 Depth Chart:

The Offense:

SE: Jerminic Smith (6-1, 187, soph.) OR Jay Scheel (6-1, 195, soph.)

LT: Cole Croston (6-5, 307, sr.); Brett Waetcher (6-5, 290, frosh.)

LG: Boone Myers (6-5, 305, jr.); Lucas LeGrand (6-5, 290, soph.)

C: Sean Welsh (6-3, 290, jr.); Steve Ferentz (6-2, 282, sr.)

RG: James Daniels (6-4, 295, soph.); Keegan Render (6-4, 308, soph.)

RT: Ike Boettger (6-6, 307, jr.); Dalton Ferguson (6-4, 310, soph.)

TE: George Kittle (6-4, 250, sr.); Peter Pekar (6-4, 250, jr.) OR Jon Wisnieski (6-5, 250, jr.)

WR: Matt VandeBerg (6-1, 190, sr.); Jonathan Parker (5-8, 188, jr.)

WR: Riley McCarron (5-9, 186, sr.); Adrian Falconer (6-1, 190, soph.)

QB: C.J. Beathard (6-2, 215, sr.); Tyler Wiegers (6-4, 225, soph.)

RB: LeShun Daniels Jr. (6-0, 225, sr.); Akrum Wadley (5-11, 191, jr.)

FB: Drake Kulick (6-1, 236, jr.); Brady Ross (6-1, 240, fr.)

PK: Miguel Recinos (6-1, 190, soph.); Mick Ellis (5-10, 190, soph.)

The Defense:

LE: Matt Nelson (6-8, 282, soph.); Sam Brincks (6-5, 270, soph.)

LT: Jaleel Johnson (6-4, 310, sr.); Faith Ekakitie (6-3, 290, sr.)

RT: Nathan Bazata (6-2, 285, jr.); Jake Hulett (6-3, 285, jr.)

RE: Parker Hesse (6-3, 250, soph.); Anthony Nelson (6-7, 253, fr.)

OLB: Ben Niemann (6-3, 230, jr.); Bo Bower (6-1, 235, jr.)

MLB: Josey Jewell (6-2, 235, jr.); Angelo Garbutt (6-2, 230, fr.)

WLB: Aaron Mends (6-0, 223, soph.); Jack Hockaday (6-1, 227, soph.)

LC: Greg Mabin (6-2, 200, sr.); Michael Ojemudia (6-2, 190, fr.)

SS: Miles Taylor (5-11, 205, jr.); Anthony Gair (6-2, 210, sr.)

FS: Brandon Snyder (6-1, 210, soph.); Jake Gervase (6-1, 210, soph.)

RC: Desmond King (5-11, 203, sr.); Josh Jackson (6-1, 185, soph.)

P: Colten Rastetter (6-2, 205, fr.); Miguel Recinos (6-1, 190, soph.)