Leistikow: Observations on Iowa's first football depth chart of 2021
Iowa's first spring football practice is Tuesday, and with that marks the introduction of the latest depth chart. After all, the coaches have to start somewhere as they get their first on-field look of 2021 at their roster.
A pre-spring depth chart usually won't offer many surprises. Guys who might be breakout players haven't had their chance to show coaches what they can do, so don't get too wrapped up in what you see here.
However, there are three observations of note:
The new tackles are ...
Jack Plumb on the left side, Cody Ince on the right. This was going to be a position of major interest and it still is, with the departures of Alaric Jackson (NFL Draft) and Mark Kallenberger (graduating early, leaving football). Plumb was an obvious choice after he started two games last fall (Nebraska, Illinois), but Ince's move to the right tackle spot is especially notable given he's the smallest of the 10 linemen listed on the depth chart (6-foot-4, 285 pounds). The junior became a reliable cog at left guard last season, so this is probably more of a reflection of his reliability rather than where he ends up.
It's also a reflection that Iowa has a ton of returning guards, and for now Kyler Schott and Justin Britt man those roles. It's nice to have Rimington Trophy finalist Tyler Linderbaum in the middle. And remember, Iowa has a bevy of rising freshmen in the offensive line room, and new position coach George Barnett hasn't even gotten a good look at anyone yet.
Seeing the defensive line on paper is sort of jarring
The Hawkeyes lost three enormous pieces to last year's 6-2 team with Chauncey Golston, Jack Heflin and Daviyon Nixon all off to the NFL Draft. The latter is especially significant, as Nixon had his portrait framed in Iowa's All-American Room this winter after becoming the 27th Hawkeye to earn consensus honors. Plugging those holes for now are junior John Waggoner, sophomore Noah Shannon and freshman Yahya Black. Nothing against that trio, but they have huge shoes to fill. It would not be a surprise if Iowa taps into the transfer portal to find some D-line reinforcements.
That said, head coach Kirk Ferentz has been quite complimentary of his young crop of defensive linemen. Black certainly looks the part, and Logan Jones and Logan Lee are listed as the top tackle backups. It'll be a busy spring for assistants Kelvin Bell and Jay Niemann to find players they can trust heading into the summer and fall camp.
The missing names are also notable
Where does Xavior Williams (5-11, 190) fit into the picture? We don't know that yet. Williams is the Northern Iowa transfer with an NFL future who can play cornerback or safety.
Also, the Hawkeyes have just four running backs on their spring roster and the top backup (Ivory Kelly-Martin) is out after knee surgery. Behind first-team all-Big Ten running back Tyler Goodson are freshmen Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams. The latter two will no doubt get a slew of spring reps for new running backs coach Ladell Betts.
And don't forget, there are a lot of wide receivers not listed that will look to make an impact. For now, Tyrone Tracy Jr., Nico Ragaini and Charlie Jones seem like the obvious top three. But the Hawkeyes list 16 receivers on their spring roster, including true freshmen Arland Bruce IV and Keagan Johnson. We haven't really seen much of Diante Vines, Desmond Hutson and Quavon Matthews, either.
With the final spring practice/game set for May 1, there's a lot of time over 15 practices to sort things out.
Iowa depth chart, start of spring practice
WR: Tyrone Tracy Jr. (5-11, 203, Jr.), Max Cooper (6-0, 192, Sr.)
TE: Sam LaPorta (6-4, 249, Jr.), Luke Lachey (6-6, 237, Fr.)
LT: Jack Plumb (6-7, 293, Jr.), Mason Richman (6-6, 289, Fr.)
LG: Kyler Schott (6-2, 293, Sr.), Tyler Elsbury (6-5, 302, Fr.)
C: Tyler Linderbaum (6-3, 289, Jr.), Noah Fenske (6-4, 307, Soph.)
RG: Justin Britt (6-4, 293, Soph.), Josh Volk (6-4, 314, Fr.)
RT: Cody Ince (6-4, 285, Jr.), Nick DeJong (6-6, 296, Soph.)
WR: Nico Ragaini (6-0, 193, Jr.), Charlie Jones (6-0, 187, Sr.)
QB: Spencer Petras (6-5, 231, Jr.), Alex Padilla (6-1, 198, Soph.)
RB: Tyler Goodson (5-11, 200, Jr.), Ivory Kelly-Martin (5-10, 204, Sr.)
FB: Monte Pottebaum (6-1, 244, Jr.), Turner Pallissard (6-0, 248, Jr.)
PK: Caleb Shudak (5-8, 178, Sr.)
LE: John Waggoner (6-5, 271, Jr.), Joe Evans (6-2, 248, Jr.)
LT: Noah Shannon (6-0, 288, Jr.), Logan Jones (6-3, 267, Fr.)
RT: Yahya Black (6-5, 279, Fr.), Logan Lee (6-5, 267, Soph.)
RE: Zach VanValkenburg (6-4, 270, Sr.), Chris Reames (6-7, 255, Soph.)
OLB/Cash: Dane Belton (6-1, 205, Jr.), Logan Klemp (6-2, 232, Jr.)
MLB: Seth Benson (6-0, 231, Jr.), Jay Higgins (6-2, 219, Fr.)
WLB: Jack Campbell (6-5, 243, Jr.), Jestin Jacobs (6-4, 235, Soph.)
LCB: Matt Hankins (6-0, 180, Sr.), Jermari Harris (6-1, 177, Soph.)
SS: Kaevon Merriweather (6-0, 205, Jr.), Reggie Bracy (6-0, 203, Soph.)
FS: Jack Koerner (6-0, 205, Sr.), Quinn Schulte (6-1, 197, Soph.)
RCB: Riley Moss (6-1, 191, Sr.), Terry Roberts (5-10, 177, Jr.)
P: Tory Taylor (6-4, 225, Soph.)
LS: Austin Spiewak (6-1, 239, Sr.)