Early '14 Depth Chart Analysis
Carl Davis
HI.com Publisher
Posted Dec 10, 2013


Monday's news of Brandon Scherff returning for his senior season created conversation about the prospects for the 2014 Hawkeyes. HI Publisher Rob Howe takes a look a potential depth chart for next fall.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - The month of December kept getting better for Hawkeye fans when on Monday all-conference lineman Brandon Scherff announced that he'd be returning for his senior season next fall. A day earlier, Iowa learned it would be facing LSU in the Outback Bowl.

The junior from Dennison was projected to be a first-round choice in the spring's NFL Draft. Scherff instead felt it was in his best interest to come back to college.

Maybe Scherff would have made the same decision had Iowa failed to put together an 8-4 record this season after being 4-8 a year ago. Perhaps he leaves if the Hawkeyes are sitting home for the holidays again.

The good thing for the Iowa faithful is that it doesn't matter. Their team is heading to a New Year's Bowl and arguably their best player is returning for what could be a special 2014.

The Hawkeyes return Scherff, center Austin Blythe and rotating left guards, Jordan Walsh and Andrew Donnal, to the offensive line. Most of the skill players, including quarterback Jake Rudock, also retain eligibility going forward.

I thought it would be fun to project what next fall's two-deep might look like. I know. Depth charts hold limited meaning, especially the way Coach Kirk Ferentz manipulates them.

Whatever. These things are fun. Especially on a cold day here in Iowa City with weeks before the bowl game.

OFFENSE

QB

Starter - Jake Rudock

Backup - C.J. Beathard

Comments - It's an interesting dynamic when you have a starter just one grade ahead of his backup. In this case, they competed for the opening this past spring, fall and throughout the season. Nic Shimonek will be a redshirt freshman next season and he didn't come to Iowa with the intention of sitting three more seasons waiting for Rudock and Beathard to graduate. He also is the only one hand-picked by offensive coordinator Greg Davis.

RB

Starter - Mark Weisman

Backup - Jordan Canzeri

Comments - Ah, yes, the running back position at Iowa. We either have too many or not enough. Weisman and Canzeri offer a nice blend of power and speed. Damon Bullock played very well at times this season and was a non-factor in other games. I still think he can help but maybe as a hybrid where you can take advantage of his hands and ability to make people miss in the open field. LeShun Daniels potentially could be the most well-rounded back on the roster. Then you have Barkley Hill, Michael Malloy (maybe), Akrum Wadley and Jonathan Parker along with incoming recruits Markel Smith and C.J. Hilliard.

FB

Starter - Adam Cox

Backup - Macon Plewa

Comments - Iowa is pretty fortunate to have two guys willing to run head first into linebackers without much recognition. Berkley Grimm is hoping to push his way into some playing time as well.

Left Tackle

Starter - Brandon Scherff

Backup - Cole Croston

Left Guard

Starter - Andrew Donnal

Backup - Tommy Gaul

Center

Starter - Austin Blythe

Backup - Eric Simmons

Right Guard

Starter - Jordan Walsh

Backup - Colin Goebel

Right Tackle

Starter - Ryan Ward

Backup - Boone Myers

Comments - This unit will be a work in progress starting in the spring. The departing and underrated Brett Van Sloten and Conor Boffeli will be missed. Ward could be a good one. Simmons and Gaul are a versatile inside guys. It will be interesting to see who might emerge from the list of second- and third-year players such as Goebel, Myers, Mitch Keppy, Reid Sealby and Sean Welsh. This position needs to be addressed in the 2015 recruiting cycle, particularly at tackle.

WR

Starter - Kevonte Martin-Manley

Backup - Jacob Hillyer

Starter - Tevaun Smith

Backup - Matt Vandeberg

Comments - First-year position coach Bobby Kennedy showed he's comfortable going deep into his group of receivers. Damond Powell could grab a more prominent role in '14 as might Riley McCarron. Walk-on Blake Haluska will be a steady senior. There are a lot of unknowns in the second-year group of Derrick Willies, Andre Harris, Derrick Mitchell Jr. and A.J. Jones.

TE

Starter - Ray Hamilton

Backup - Jake Duzey

Comments - Like receiver, Iowa dips deep into its tight end pool. George Kittle played a lot this season and his field time likely will increase next fall. Henry Krieger Coble should also move up the list and could surprise. Jon Wisnieski will have a redshirt year under his belt and has the potential to be a very good player.

K

Starter - Marshall Koehn

Backup - Alden Haffar

Comments - Koehn is another multi-sport, in-state product with which Iowa has succeeded at the position. You never know how a guy is going to perform in front of 70,000 people, but the Solon native has the leg. Haffar walked on from Iowa Central last year and showed a strong leg in the summer.

DEFENSE

DE

Starter - Drew Ott

Backup - Nate Meier

DT

Starter - Louis Trinca-Pasat

Backup - Darian Cooper

DT

Starter - Carl Davis

Backup - Jaleel Johnson

DE

Starter - Mike Hardy

Backup - Faith Ekakitie

Comments - A group that proved to be the most improved on the team this fall brings back most of its parts in '14. I'll be interested to see if Coach Reese Morgan can turn Ekakitie into a productive end or if he slips back inside. Incoming freshman MattĀ  Nelson likely will need a redshirt. A JUCO end like Torey Hendrick or Trevon Young could be a big boost to the pass rush.

LB

LEO

Starter - Travis Perry

Backup - John Kenny

MLB

Starter - Quinton Alston

Backup - Laron Taylor

WLB

Starter - Reggie Spearman

Backup - Cole Fisher

Comments - I tabbed veterans in Fisher and Taylor but there could be a lot of competition from young guys on the roster, like Josey Jewell, Drake Kullick and Bo Bower, and talented incoming freshmen in Aaron Mends, Ben Niemann, Parker Hesse and Jameer Outsey. All eyes will be focused on this position as soon as the final horn sounds from the Outback Bowl.

CB

Starter - Desmond King

Backup - Sean Draper

FS

Starter - Anthony Gair

Backup - Ruben Lile

SS

Starter - John Lowdermilk

Backup - Nico Law

CB

Starter - Jordan Lomax

Backup - Reese Fleming

Comments - Another position that might see a lot of movement from the spring through camp, particularly at safety. There's a good chance Lowdermilk will slide over to free and Law start at strong. I need to see Nico play consistent football before buying it. Greg Mabin has some time under his belt after switching from receiver and could move into the mix. Some talent comes in the form of freshmen Jalen Embry, Jyaz Jones, Joshua Jackson and Marcel Joly.

P

Starter - Connor Kornbrath

Backup - Marshall Koehn

Comments - Kornbrath continues to improve. I think he will be a significant weapon in his final two seasons.


Related Stories
Scherff to Return
 -by HawkeyeInsider.com  Dec 9, 2013
Ferentz sees no weaknesses in LSU
 -by TigerSportsDigest.com  Dec 9, 2013
Miles, Ferentz Field Questions
 -by HawkeyeInsider.com  Dec 9, 2013

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