2011 Position Battles: Offense
by, 02-05-2011 at 04:38 AM (1303 Views)
Position Battles: Pre-Spring 2011
Part 1: Offense
RB--If Marcus Coker can play every game 80% as well as he played the Insight Bowl, Shonn Greene will have company in Iowa football lore. At 230 pounds, Coker is a monster between the tackles, but he still has the speed to break off long runs. Just a sophomore, should Coker stay healthy he has the athletic potential to be the most productive rusher in Iowa history. Beyond Coker is a giant question mark. Redshirt freshman De’Andre Johnson is a tantalizing scat back and starting fullback Brad Rodgers saw limited action in single back sets a year ago, but there is no real experienced depth at this position. Signees that could potentially play running back include Rodney Coe, Jordan Canzeri, Torrey Campbell, Damon Bullock, and Mikail McCall, though it seems likely that Campbell (and possibly Coe) will play defense.
FB--Assuming his heart ailment is not a lingering issue, Brad Rodgers will certainly start here. The 5-10, 225 lb. third year sophomore has only played fullback for one year but greatly improved over the course of last season. A former tailback, he also gives the Hawks a second ball carrying threat when he is on the field.
WR--Marvin McNutt should be the unquestioned leader of this unit. The 6-4, 215 lb. senior was a second team all-conference performer in 2010 and led Iowa with 53 catches and 861 yards while tacking on 8 TDs. While breaking in a new quarterback, another banner year from McNutt will greatly improve Iowa’s odds for success.
OL--Center James Ferentz and tackles Reiley Reiff and Marcus Zusevics lead what could be the best offensive line in the Big Ten conference. All three were full-time starters in 2010 and Reiff was an off-and-on starter in 2009. Zusevics will be the senior leader of this group, but at left tackle and center, the juniors Ferentz and Reiff, a second-team all-conference performer in 2010, are the true anchors of the unit. According to Hawkeyesports.com, these three have played every offense down of a game a combined 30 times in the past two years.
QB--With his experience and talent, James Vandenberg seems like the guy to beat. Listed as the second guy for the past two seasons, the 6-3 junior from Keokuk gave the Hawks a glimpse of the future against Ohio State in 2009, but he could be a totally different player (for better or worse) today. Battling Vandenberg is fellow fourth year junior John Wienke. Wienke has only thrown one career pass, but seems to have tools. While in high school, Wienke was offered (and accepted) a scholarship from Michigan to play for Lloyd Carr, who knew a thing or two about quarterbacks, having coached future NFL QBs Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Chad Henne, kind-of-pro Drew Henson, and (though he transferred to Arkansas following Carr’s departure) future pro Ryan Mallett. Wienke also attended the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp while in high school and was one of the most prolific QBs in Illinois football history. Other quarterbacks include redshirt frosh AJ Derby, signee Jake Rudock, and walk-on Wyatt Seuss.
WR--Junior Keenan Davis is expected to finally step into the role many thought he would have when he came to Iowa as a highly-touted recruit two years ago. Though 6-3 and 215, Davis has the speed and shiftiness to have been trusted as a kick returner in 2010. Davis has just 15 catches, 186 yards, and two touchdowns in his career, but if one assumes that he has been working with a second team unit that included probable starting quarterback James Vandenberg every day in practice for two years, it is easy to see how Davis could quickly become a go-to-guy.
OG--When healthy, senior Adam Gettis was a very good right guard in 2010. The problem was staying on the field. Gettis missed games at the beginning of the year and at the end of the season. In all, Gettis started just two games last year, but was highly regarded by the coaching staff for his ability during preseason camp. Third year sophomore Nolan MacMillan also recorded six starts at right guard in 2010. The 6-6, 290 lb. Canadian has NFL potential should he play more consistently. Behind these two is a group that includes former prep hoop star Woody Orne, a pair of redshirt freshmen in Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal, JuCo signee Dan Heiar, and four-star signees Jordan Walsh and Austin Blythe.
3rd WR--This is a truly wide open spot. RSF Kevonte Martin-Manly is touted for his raw talent. True sophomore Don Shumpert was a solid special teams contributor in 2010. Third year sophomore Jordon Cotton was a prolific prep but has played minimally at Iowa. Beyond those three are a slew of recruits. Though it appears Austin Vincent may never make it to campus, fellow Texan Jacob Hillyer could be a recruiting coup. Marcus Grant has shown Hawkeye enthusiasm on Twitter; hopefully he can match his words with his talent.
TE--This could be the closest battle for a starting spot on the whole team. In one corner there is the protypical Iowa player, Brad Herman. Lightly recruited out of high school, the 6-5, 250 lb. senior has sat behind three NFL-calibar TEs in his time at Iowa, has worked to the top, and is ready to fill the starting role. On the other hand is ultra-talented 6-7 sophomore CJ Fiedorowicz, who some considered the top player at his position in America in the class of 2010. Fiedorowicz is probably the more physically gifted receiver and certainly has more size, but in Iowa’s offense, blocking, where Herman seems to have a major edge, is so vital at the tight end spot. This battle could last into the season, and will hopefully make both players better.