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Iowa football: Redshirt sophomore defensive back Julius Brents entering transfer portal

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — While Iowa football has dealt with multiple transfer-portal departures this season, the latest entry is the first who had significant playing time during his Hawkeye tenure. 

Redshirt sophomore defensive back Julius Brents entered the transfer portal Monday, a source confirmed to HawkCentral. He is the fifth Iowa player to do so since the 2020 season began, joining running back Shadrick Byrd, linebacker Yahweh Jeudy, wide receiver Calvin Lockett and defensive back Daraun McKinney.

But unlike the previous four, Brents had worked his way into the two-deep at times in Iowa City. The 6-foot-2 cornerback from Indianapolis was in the starting lineup for a five-game stretch as a true freshman in 2018, cracking Iowa's first-team defense against Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Penn State and Purdue. Four of those were road games. 

Brents finished 2018 with 13 tackles (eight solo), three passes defended and one interception, which was snagged in his first-career start against the Golden Gophers. Despite less action down the stretch, Brents headed into 2019 as a nice piece in the Iowa secondary. 

Iowa defensive back Julius Brents warms up before a NCAA Big Ten Conference football game, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

His sophomore campaign never really materialized. A knee injury dealt with during fall camp lingered into the season, as Brents was ruled out before the 2019 season-opener against Miami (Ohio) and ultimately missed Iowa's first four games. Brents' sophomore debut came the following week at Michigan, but the action was brief and yielded no statistics. He battled the knee injury the rest of the year and finally decided to redshirt. 

Sidelined for that long eventually had Brents on the outside looking in as far as secondary playing time. Local products Riley Moss and Jack Koerner have ascended above Brents, as have standout sophomores Dane Belton and Kaevon Merriweather. Weave in senior cornerback Matt Hankins and there just hasn't been an opening for Brents with everyone healthy.

Moss, Koerner, Merriweather, Belton and Hankins have started every game in which Iowa has opened with five defensive backs. Brents has been reduced to special teams work and reserve secondary action this season.    

A former 4-star prospect out of Warren Central High School, Brents committed to Iowa in September 2017 over offers from Michigan State, Indiana, North Carolina State and Louisville, among others. He signed with the Hawkeyes during the 2017 early-signing period.

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.