Iowa football's James Daniels on track to return, Manny Rugamba listed as starter for Cy-Hawk game

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

All signs are pointing to Iowa center James Daniels making his season debut Saturday in Ames.

The Hawkeyes' game-week depth chart released Monday included Daniels as the starting center. He missed Iowa's season-opening, 24-3 win against Wyoming with an unspecified injury.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz had indicated that Daniels would return to practice early this week, and he reiterated that positive development Sunday night on the university's website. 

Iowa center James Daniels (78) enters his junior season as a player to watch for the Rimington Trophy.

"We're hoping to get him back early in the week here, where he can practice full speed and really have a chance to play the way he wants to play," Ferentz said. "Getting him back would be helpful."

Daniels is on the Rimington Award watch list for college football's top center. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior is one of Iowa's most athletic, dominant linemen. His return would slide junior Keegan Render, who served as a semi-emergency sub at center Saturday after learning Friday that Daniels would not play, back to his usual position of left guard.

Redshirt freshman Alaric Jackson, who made his first career start Saturday at left tackle with senior Boone Myers hobbled, was officially listed on the No. 1 line Monday in advance of Saturday's game at 1-0 Iowa State (11 a.m., ESPN2). Myers, who shared series with Ross Reynolds at left guard Saturday, is now the backup.

Also of note but not a surprise: Manny Rugamba is listed as the No. 1 right cornerback. The sophomore was suspended for the Wyoming game for violating team policy. He is the Hawkeyes' top cover man, and his return will be welcomed against a talented corps of Cyclone receivers.

As of Monday morning, Iowa was listed as a 1.5-point favorite against the Cyclones. Iowa won last year's meeting, 42-3. 

“The one thing I’d say to any of our fans who were at the game last year, forget about that one. That was an aberration," Ferentz said in the Sunday-night interview. "That was a new team with a new staff. They just weren’t together at that point, but about midseason on, they really started coming together. They’ve got a real veteran ballclub right now, a team that’s much more familiar with what their coaching staff is looking for. … They’re on the right path.”