Julius Brents, Riley Moss Ready for Round 2 with Hawkeyes

August 16, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Phil Parker is not one to hide his feelings. Iowa’s defensive coordinator and secondary coach lets his players know what he expects.

It’s clear that second-year cornerbacks Julius Brents and Riley Moss have received their marching orders.

“I would say stay consistent in practice, do the right things over and over again,” Moss said when asked how he can be better.

Said Brents when answering the same question: “For me, the main thing I’ve been focusing on is just to be consistent. I think I already possess the size and the skill set to be able to play, but just coming out every day with a positive attitude and being consistent on a daily basis.”

The duo was thrown into action last season during Game 5 at Minnesota. The true freshman replaced injured starters Matt Hankings and Michael Ojemudia.

The Gophers went after the rookies, particularly picking on Moss. After some early struggles, he intercepted a pair of passes and was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the week in a 48-31 victory. Brents also picked off a pass and broke up two more.

The success continued as Brents and Moss played well in starting assignments against Indiana and Maryland the following two weeks. The Hawkeyes allowed a combined 16 points in those contests.

Moss delivered a career-high six solo tackles against the Hoosiers and then broke up two passes against the Terrapins. Brents locked down his side of the field in those games.

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Then came turbulence.

Iowa dropped back-to-back road games at Penn State and Purdue with the freshmen in the starting lineup. Veteran quarterbacks Trace McSorley and David Blough picked on them in putting up a combined 66 points.

Parker saw a pair of guys hitting a wall.

“They didn’t have a choice but to go out there and play. I think they learned some things as they went in there. I think it became in time the wear and tear for a college season kind of wore on them a little bit,” he said.

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The coach sees the talent there that put them in position to play shortly after arriving on campus. He just doesn’t want them relaxing on their laurels.

“They need to grow and keep on growing. They have to continue that work ethic of what made them get there and actually play on the field as a freshman to keep on improving to be back out there. You just don’t want to take a dip of your work ethic. You’ve got to keep on striving to get better at every point,” Parker said.

Moss is working on that in practice. He is realizing there’s plenty to prove.

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“Another thing is becoming more trustworthy with teammates and coaches. If they can trust you to do your job, you’re going to see the field,” he said.

Parker is witnessing players believing in their ability. It comes from gaining experience last season.

“It gave me confidence to get my feet wet. Now this year I’m looking forward to an even better year,” Brents said.

Hankins and Ojemudia are running with the first team during camp, and Brents and Moss are with the twos. Beyond that, the Hawkeyes boast depth even though it’s unproven. Guys like Terry Roberts, Daraun McKinney and Jermari Harris are working to move up the depth chart.

“We all just come out here and compete every day. We’re friends, brothers, and it just makes the game fun,” Brents said.

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