True freshmen on the rise for Iowa football team

Mark Emmert

True freshmen are shaking up the depth chart for the Iowa football team a week before the season opener.

The official Week 1 depth chart was released Friday and eight first-year players are listed, notably quarterback Nathan Stanley and place-kicker Keith Duncan.

Stanley is listed along with redshirt sophomore Tyler Wiegers as the backup to C.J. Beathard, indicating the battle for the No. 2 spot is ongoing. Duncan is listed as the starting kicker, with sophomores Nick Ellis and Miguel Recinos fighting to be his backup. The rookie from North Carolina appears to be in line to get the first crack at booting an extra-point or field goal next Saturday.

True freshman quarterback Nathan Stanley may have been wearing a red shirt during the Kids Day scrimmage this month, but that doesn't mean he'll be taking a redshirt season. He is listed as battling sophomore Tyler Wiegers for the backup spot on the Hawkeyes' initial depth chart, one of seven first-year players to appear.

Other observations from the Hawkeye depth chart, with the season opener against Miami of Ohio set to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday (ESPNU):

  • Jay Scheel has won the starting split end job, with Jerminic Smith his backup. Scheel, a sophomore, has yet to catch a pass in a game but has long carried high hopes.
  • True freshman Devonte Young is backing up senior Riley McCarron at the other wideout spot.
  • Junior Sean Welsh is listed as the starting center, with sophomore James Daniels at right guard. Those two have been swapping those positions all summer.
  • Drake Kulick and Brady Ross are sharing the No. 1 spot at fullback still, a competition that has lasted throughout the spring and summer.
  • Anthony Nelson has moved from being Parker Hesse's backup at one defensive end spot to sharing the No. 1 line with Matt Nelson on the other side. That has elevated redshirt freshman Brady Reiff on to the two-deep as Hesse's new backup.
  • As expected, true freshman Cedrick Lattimore, all 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds of him, is the backup at defensive tackle to senior star Jaleel Johnson. Lattimore entered camp as a 260-pound defensive end.
  • Junior Bo Bower is the starter at weakside linebacker while sophomore Aaron Mends is listed alongside true freshman Amani Jones as his backups.
  • At outside linebacker, true freshman Kristian Welch has made a surprise ascension, listed alongside junior Kevin Ward as the backups to starter Ben Niemann.
  • At right cornerback, where Desmond King is firmly entrenched, the intrigue is in who's backing him up. True freshman Manny Rugamba is sharing the No. 2 line with sophomore Josh Jackson, the presumed heir apparent.
  • Freshman Amani Hooker is listed alongside senior Anthony Gair as the backup to strong safety Miles Taylor.

In all, eight true freshman are on Iowa's initial game-week two-deep. Last year, only four true freshmen saw the field in the Hawkeyes' 12-2 season.