SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - With a large senior class, Iowa will be replacing a lot in 2011. And it might not end there.
Hawkeye juniors Tyler Sash and Marvin McNutt indicated here on Sunday that they have filed paper work with the NFL to explore the possibilities of entering April's draft. They're all-Big Ten performers.
"If I had to decide right now, I'd be coming back," said Sash, a free safety. "As of right now, I'm coming back. But I still have two weeks to be with my family and I'll talk to coach about it more.
"We talked about it for 30 seconds. It's something we can look into after the bowl game. He's had a enough on his plate the last month to worry about something with me."
The deadline to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.
McNutt, a receiver who posted team-highs in receptions (51) and receiving yardage (798) to go with eight touchdowns in 2010, played his future plans hand a little closer to the vest on Sunday. He said he filed the paper work and didn't expand on that.
"It's a no comment type thing because my main focus right now is on Mizzou," McNutt said. "I don't even want to put that in my mind or anything like that. I don‘t want any distractions."
Sash intercepted two passes this season and has picked off 13 in his Hawkeye career. While he's leaning towards a return to college, he felt like he owed it to himself to take a look at his NFL prospects.
"I've been a starter for three years," Sash said. "I've been here for four years. It's weird seeing Reisner and Sandeman graduating this year. I came in with those guys.
"I've had a couple of shoulder surgeries. This is the first season I've been healthy. It's something you dream of as a little kid; everyone that goes to a Division I school dreams that. You have to have aspirations of playing at the next level."
Sash said he will leave school if the NFL paper work returned to him indicates he's going to be a high draft pick.
It's hard to pinpoint where Iowa's two juniors project in the draft. Research on sites that speculate on this stuff are all over the board. They also have to look at the potential for a lockout in the NFL. Conversely, much of the labor strife centers around rookie salaries, the league wanting them lowered. Coming out early could benefit a player financially if the structure changes.
Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette spoke with underclassmen Riley Reiff and Shaun Prater on Sunday. Reiff, and offensive tackle, has not filed paper work and Prater, a cornerback, refused comment, referring questions to Coach Kirk Ferentz.
Hoch Stoked: Harlan, Iowa native Dan Hoch recalls disappointing home state Hawkeye fans when he chose Missouri for college. He's now faced with playing against Iowa in Tuesday's Insight Bowl and the questions that come with it.
"It's a great story because not many people leave the state of Iowa to play somewhere else," the Offensive Lineman said of his storyline in this match-up. "It was very hard (to leave Iowa). It just came down to a comfort level here.
"The Iowa coaches are great. I feel like the two coaching staffs are very similar. At both places, when you start your career there, you can guarantee they same coaches will be there when you end it."
Hoch said at times he downplays his connection to Iowa in this game but he also uses it as motivation.
"When the game comes around, I know I'll feel it," he said. "It will be something that helps me get going and hopefully that helps other guys get going."
TenorHawk?: Iowa guard Julian Vandervelde admits that he occasionally reads internet message boards. He can't help himself when in need of comedy relief.
"I think the rumor mill is hilarious," he said. "I'll probably hang out in message boards after my career is over. I've talked about it throughout the season. We can get on as a team and post random rumors and see what the craziest rumor we can possibly get to fly is."
"My dad sent me the link (to a message board post)," Vandervelde said. "It was a like a two-page thing starting out with me and Rick and Adrian going to Russia to become commandos. Rick is a Russian spy and he had us all fooled. I hope people were just going along with it as a joke."
No Regrets: Clayborn could have been a first-round NFL draft pick had he left school after last season. He returned to win a Big Ten championship and more in ‘10. He and the Hawkeyes fell short but he has no regrets.
"Not at all," Clayborn said. "I got my degree a week ago and that's what I wanted."
Clayborn's diploma was for Entrepreneurship, Business and Recreational Management.
EXTRA POINTS: Longtime Iowa radio play-by-play voice Jim Zabel showed up at Sunday's press conference here. The Arizona resident met with reporters for stories and also spent some time with Hawkeye Coach Kirk Ferentz laughing it up…The Missouri players showed a great deal of knowledge of their counterparts in the Insight. I mistakenly asked star DE Aldon Smith how he felt about facing Markus Zusevics. He quickly corrected me, saying, "No, I got Riley (Reiff)."…Sunday's press conference was advertised as showcasing head coaches and all starters for both teams. Ferentz held back his true freshmen starters James Morris, Marcus Coker and Mike Meyer per his team rules.