Iowa football welcomed several players from transfer portal. Here's how they're adjusting.

Kennington Lloyd Smith III
Des Moines Register

Iowa football senior defensive end Joe Evans likened January workouts to Christmas Day during Thursday's media availability. The presents in his analogy were several new faces that joined the program after the 2022 season.

"I saw in our locker room that there was a whole pod of all (mid-school year enrollees)," Evans said. "I said 'Man, this is awesome. This is sweet.' It's been great and I think they're doing a great job."

The Hawkeyes welcomed nine new players in January via the transfer portal: quarterbacks Cade McNamara (Michigan) and Deacon Hill (Wisconsin), wide receivers Seth Anderson (Charleston Southern) and Austin Kutscher (Ohio State), tight ends Erick All (Michigan) and Hayden Large (Dordt College), offensive lineman Daijon Parker (Saginaw Valley State) and defensive linemen Jackson Filer and Anterio Thompson (Iowa Western). That group will be counted on to make immediate contributions.

More:Leistikow: The Cade McNamara era with Iowa football is off to a positive start

But first, their top priority is earning the respect of the rest of the team and learning the ins and outs of Iowa's culture.

"You can't just come in and try to be a leader," All said. "You want to get everyone's respect and attention and let them know what your mindset is. You just want to feed off each other. I just want to be someone to love on everyone and try to lift them up."

All, Anderson, McNamara and Parker spoke about their adjustments to the program during Thursday's media availability. It served as an opportunity to expand on their decisions to transfer to Iowa and provide some insight on the first phase of the winter conditioning period.

"The things that stood out were the resources I'd have," Parker, a graduate transfer, said. "Coming from Division II, I didn't have the same resources ... throughout my seasons at my old school. My weight would go up and down. I knew I could keep it up here. The weight room, winning culture, and I wanted to bet on myself for my last year."

Anderson shared the same sentiments about the early effects of Iowa's well-regarded strength and conditioning program. He noted that he's gained weight (up from his 178-pound weight from last season) and is seeing improvements in his speed. Parker enrolled at 296 pounds and is up to 305 pounds; his plan is to get to around 315 pounds by the start of the season.

More:Iowa football gets Virginia LB Nick Jackson from the transfer portal. Here's the impact.

Both players were recruited with the expectation to contribute early to Iowa's offense. Parker will likely start at offensive tackle and Anderson said his integration will begin at slot receiver and expand from there.

"I think I'm very versatile," Anderson said. "I feel like I can get some yards after the catch, go over the top (of defenses). I make plays."

The two most marquee names from Iowa's transfer class are All and McNamara, who were team captains and All-Big Ten performers at Michigan. Both sustained injuries last season and questions loomed during their recruitment about their availability for spring practice. Thursday offered a chance for updates.

McNamara (knee) said he is ahead of schedule, participating in every weight-room session and throwing. He expects to participate and be 100% by the end of spring practice in late April. All (back) was less definitive but said all signs are pointing to spring participation.

"I feel great but it's just a process," All said. "It's kind of like playing the time game, but for the most part I'm moving good and hopefully I'll be out there. It's been a while since I've felt this good."

The Iowa players who have been in the program gave credit to the transfer players for how they've assimilated. They noted how Anderson's personality has quickly earned friends, McNamara is already one of the vocal leaders and is a part of the team's 12-man leadership council, and Parker is adding some veteran leadership to a young offensive line room.

Together, the players have been clear about their goals for 2023: not only winning the Big Ten West but the conference title. For now, the new players are continuing to focus on building chemistry daily.

Iowa tight end Erick All speaks with reporters Thursday at the Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City.

"The level of seriousness that comes with playing at the university is very special to the guys," McNamara said. "For me it's pretty inspiring how much they care about it, that's completely stood out to me, and something I'm happy to be a part of."