With dearth at receiver, Iowa to feature multiple tight-end sets in 2017
CHICAGO, Ill. — Another wrinkle to how Iowa's offense might look under new coordinator Brian Ferentz was unveiled Monday morning with the release of the Hawkeyes' preseason depth chart.
Most notably: There are two starting tight ends.
And the starters are young, tall and fast.
Sophomore Noah Fant, a 6-foot-5, 232-pound product of Omaha, is No. 1 at one of the tight-end positions, with redshirt sophomore Nate Wieting as his backup.
The other starter is redshirt freshman T.J. Hockenson (6-5, 243), the Chariton native who had four catches in Iowa's spring game, with senior Peter Pekar as his backup.
Previously, Iowa listed Pekar as its lone starting tight end with Fant as the No. 2.
The Hawkeyes traditionally listed three starting wide-receiver positions under previous offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who retired in January. But now there are only two. The starters at those positions: senior Matt VandeBerg and junior-college transfer Nick Easley.
Why the change?
“Accentuate the positive, I guess," head coach Kirk Ferentz said Monday at Big Ten Media Days. "That’s an area that we think has a chance to be a strength on our football team. It’s well-documented, at least in our state, that we’re inexperienced at the receiver position.
“It’s fair to say we’ll play with multiple tight-end sets frequently, at least until some of the other guys get going a little bit.”
The depth chart, as it did in the spring, also shows sophomore Nathan Stanley as the No. 1 quarterback and redshirt junior Tyler Wiegers as No. 2. However, Ferentz has said the competition at that position will likely head into August.
Incoming graduate-transfer running back James Butler, a 3,300-yard career rusher at Nevada, is listed in the media guide at 5-9, 210 and will wear No. 20. He is not listed on the depth chart; he's only been in Iowa City for one week.
There were no roster-attrition surprises, either. The only scholarship players from the spring roster who didn't make the media guide were already known: kicker Mick Ellis, linebacker Angelo Garbutt and receiver Jerminic Smith. Two walk-on receivers, Connor Keane and Yale Van Dyne, are not listed.
Ferentz, VandeBerg, linebacker Josey Jewell (honored as one of five Big Ten West players to watch by the conference) and offensive lineman Sean Welsh were scheduled to participate in Monday's media spectacle here at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.
Iowa's 2017 Preseason Depth Chart
SE: Matt VandeBerg (6-1, 195, Sr.), Adrian Falconer (6-1, 192, Jr.)
TE: Noah Fant (6-5, 232, Soph.), Nate Wieting (6-4, 250, Soph.)
LT: Boone Myers (6-5, 310, Sr.), Alaric Jackson (6-7, 320, Fr.)
LG: Keegan Render (6-4, 310, Jr.), Ross Reynolds (6-4, 300, Jr.)
C: James Daniels (6-4, 295, Jr.), Spencer Williams (6-3, 295, Fr.), Cole Banwart (6-4, 295, Fr.)
RG: Sean Welsh (6-3, 295, Sr.), Levi Paulsen (6-5, 305, Soph.)
RT: Ike Boettger (6-6, 307, Sr.), Lucas LeGrand (6-5, 295, Jr.)
TE: T.J. Hockenson (6-5, 243, Fr.), Peter Pekar (6-4, 252, Sr.)
WR: Nick Easley (5-11, 203, Jr.), Devonte Young (6-0, 200, Soph.)
QB: Nathan Stanley (6-5, 235, Soph.), Tyler Wiegers (6-4, 225, Jr.)
RB: Akrum Wadley (5-11, 195, Sr.), Toren Young (5-11, 220, Fr.), Toks Akinribade (6-0, 208, Soph.)
FB: Drake Kulick (6-1, 240, Sr.), Brady Ross (6-1, 245, Soph.), Austin Kelly (5-11, 245, Jr.)
PK: Keith Duncan (5-11, 173, Soph.), Miguel Recinos (6-1, 192, Jr.), Caleb Shudak (5-8, 175, Fr.)
LE: Matt Nelson (6-8, 285, Jr.) OR Anthony Nelson (6-7, 260, Soph.)
LT: Cedrick Lattimore (6-5, 295, Soph.), Brady Reiff (6-3, 260, Soph.)
RT: Nathan Bazata (6-2, 287, Sr.), Garret Jansen (6-2, 280, Soph.)
RE: Parker Hesse (6-3, 257, Jr.), Sam Brincks (6-5, 275, Jr.)
OLB: Ben Niemann (6-3, 233, Sr.), Kevin Ward (6-1, 217, Sr.)
MLB: JoseyJewelll (6-2, 236, Sr.), Jack Hockaday (6-1, 232, Jr.), Kristian Welch (6-3, 232, Soph.)
WLB: Bo Bower (6-1, 235, Sr.), Amani Jones (6-0, 235, Soph.), Aaron Mends (6-0, 227, Jr.)
LC: Joshua Jackson (6-1, 192, Jr.), Michael Ojemudia (6-2, 200, Soph.)
SS: Miles Taylor (5-10, 203, Sr.), Noah Clayberg (5-11, 209, Fr.)
FS: Jake Gervase (6-1, 210, Jr.), Amani Hooker (6-0, 210, Sr.)
RC: Manny Rugamba (6-0, 185, Soph.), Cedric Boswell (5-11, 187, Fr.)
P: Colten Rastetter (6-2, 210, Sr.)