Iowa Football Media Day: What we learned from Kirk Ferentz's press conference

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks to reporters during Iowa football media day on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Some quick highlights from Kirk Ferentz's media day press conference:

Who will replace suspended players in Week 1?

Ferentz mentioned Mark Kallenberger, Levi Paulsen and Dalton Ferguson as likely replacements for suspended offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs and Alaric Jackson in Week 1 versus Northern Illinois. 

Any other names in the mix?

"Anybody that's eligible," Ferentz said.

Defensive tackles Brady Reiff and Cedrick Lattimore were also suspended for the opener. Ferentz said all four players are practicing and will be on the scout team during game week. He said they will not attend the game. 

Ferentz said he's hopeful that these suspensions will be "a blip on the radar" for the four players.

"There are certain standards we have," he said. "Either you abide by them, or you don't."

More from Iowa football media day

Two names emerge in linebacker competition

Ferentz said Amani Jones and Nick Niemann surfaced as "guys that were ahead of the pack" during spring. After those two, Ferentz said the position is wide open.

He mentioned Barrington Wade, Jack Hockaday, Kristian Welch and Djimon Colbert as other players in the mix.

Niemann will play inside linebacker, Ferentz said. Wade will play on the outside.

Freshmen could contribute right away

Ferentz mentioned four spots where freshmen could challenge for playing time right away: secondary, linebackers, running back and defensive line. He said there's a chance at receiver, but that would be more surprising.

How things are shaking out in the secondary

Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins have separated themselves as the clear No. 1 and 2 cornerbacks. After them, it's wide open, Ferentz said.

At safety, Amani Hooker and Jake Gervase are the starters and Geno Stone will factor in heavily. Ferentz said they're still looking for Nos. 4 and 5 on the depth chart.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks to reporters during Iowa football media day on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Mekhi Sargent?

Ferentz said he could see junior-college transfer running back Mekhi Sargent contributing alongside Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin this season.

He said Kelvin Bell saw Sargent play with Iowa Western at the Graphic Edge Bowl in December and the interest grew from there.

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"He looks like he's really starting to warm up," Ferentz said. "He had a really good day today."

Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.