Former Dowling star Ryan Boyle desperate for Hawkeye playing time

Chris Cuellar

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The roar Ryan Boyle has been waiting to hear is likely less than a month away.

Even if his black No. 11 uniform goes mostly unnoticed on Hawkeye special teams coverage.

“Ryan has said that running out at Kinnick Stadium and playing there is something he’s always dreamed about doing,” said Boyle’s prep coach Tom Wilson.

The Hawkeyes Ryan Boyle from West Des Moines poses for a portrait during media day on Saturday, August 6, 2016 in Iowa City.

“I’m sure in that dream he was a quarterback.”

Stuck behind star C.J. Beathard and backup Tyler Wiegers in Iowa’s quarterback pecking order, the former Dowling Catholic standout changed positions in the spring.

Now a redshirt freshman receiver, Boyle just wants to play. He dutifully repeated his team-first attitude as a popular player at last Saturday’s media day.

“They came to me for the move towards the end of spring ball,” Boyle said. “The opportunity arose to get on the field, make a change and help out the team.”

How he’ll help out the team in 2016 remains to be seen.

Boyle was a surprising spring game performer with two catches for 44 yards and a touchdown, but Big Ten competition and Iowa’s depth chart offer a greater challenge. He was not listed on the team’s summer two-deep; however, top returner Matt VandeBerg’s backup Jonathan Parker is out with a foot injury.

Receivers coach Bobby Kennedy wants to give the two-time Gatorade high school state player of the year more time to transition.

“I would not say he’s right there yet, just because it’s only five days really,” Kennedy said. “We had him two days in the spring, and now we’re through three practices. Ryan’s a guy that you see flashes with him.”

But early results might be expected as offensive coordinator Greg Davis called the move to receiver a “one-year rental,” to a crowd of reporters. Boyle’s athleticism and Iowa’s lack of plentiful pass-catching options make it plausible. VandeBerg is the lone returner with more than six grabs in 2015.

Iowa quarterback Ryan Boyle (No. 11) surprised a few when he displayed skills as a receiver, including this catch for a touchdown on the final play of the game during the spring game for the 2016 Iowa Hawkeyes football team on Saturday, April 23, 2016, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

The split out wide includes special teams responsibilities on kickoffs and punts, with practice this month to dictate that depth chart.

“For us, it’s a matter of, do you want a guy who’s a good athlete, competitive athlete, good ball skills, sitting on the bench?” Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle said. “Can he help us and contribute right now? We all thought that it was an opportunity to get a good athlete on the field.”

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Doyle had close interaction with Boyle in his first full year in Iowa City, attempting to develop a player who was already a weight-lifting record-holder at Dowling. Freshman year was spent working out in the gym and soaking up experience from the sideline.

Boyle’s second year is about bringing playbook knowledge to a new position.

“Where he has an advantage that maybe some guys haven’t had is being in the quarterback room and he can kind of take that to the field at wide receiver,” Kennedy said. “He knows what guys are supposed to do. Now the technique part of it, the actual execution part of it, that’s where he can grow and continue to develop.”

Boyle noted VandeBerg as a mentor, and senior Riley McCarron and sophomore Jerminic Smith have experience to share as well. But will the move from quarterback to receiver become rent-to-own?

Those involved say they’ll re-examine it in 2017.

“I’m being a receiver this year, doing special teams, then once the season is over, we’ll talk about what’s next,” Boyle said. “If I enjoyed it, or if I want to go back to (quarterback).

“I’m fully invested in being a wide receiver and helping out the team the best I can.”

More media day coverage:

It might not be the way Boyle and fans from his Dowling Catholic days thought he’d contribute at the college level, but it’s where the Hawkeyes want him.

Behind Beathard, Wiegers and potentially classmate Drew Cook and four-star recruit Nate Stanley, the move out wide could benefit both parties.

“Ryan is a competitor,” Wilson said. “One thing is apparent: He’s bought into being an Iowa Hawkeye.”


Statistics from Ryan Boyle’s last two seasons at quarterback for Dowling Catholic.

Year       Pass       Comp.   Att.        Yards     TD          INT         Rush      Att.        Yards     TD

2013                     119        187        1,833     21           3                            199        1,332     24

2014                     137        221        1,934     18           1                            167        1,123     19