IOWA CITY, Iowa – It’s that time of year again for the list of indispensable Hawkeyes. For the 2017 rundown, I’m going to release my Top 15 via a countdown. Each day I’ll unveil a new player heading to No. 1.
A lot of media outlets weigh in on the most “important” Iowa players before the season. Everyone uses their own criteria.
For me, it’s not only what a given individual brings to the field, but also who’s projected to be behind him. That’s an important piece to the puzzle. That said, sometimes the backup fills in admirably as cornerback Manny Rugamba did last year.
As with most of these lists, they’re open for interpretation and debate. That’s the fun part of compiling them during the dog days of summer.
NO. 14 – Brady Ross/Drake Kulick
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Projected Backup: Austin Kelly, Jr.
Why They’re Here: Yes, I’m cheating by putting two guys in one spot. However, like the combo of Adam Cox and Macon Plewa before them, Kulick and Ross are a tandem that belongs together.
Kulick (6-1, 240) is projected to be healthy for August camp after suffering a nasty leg injury in the regular-season finale against Nebraska last fall. His return aids an already strong running game as he was enjoying an outstanding junior year before going down.
Kulick delivers punishing blocks. That’s why he’s on the field as evidence by him only carrying the ball nine times for nine yards in his career.
Ross (6-1, 245) is cut from the same mold. Like Kulick, he embodies descriptions such as punishing and bruising fullback.
Ross did carry the ball once for two yards last season. He caught one pass for six yards.
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Kulick and Ross both began their Iowa careers as linebackers. Since they changed positions, the have become accomplished at clearing linebackers out of the way.
It’s a thankless (at least from the outside) position serving an integral part in an offensive built around the running game. Kulick and Ross know their assignments and carry them out.
I would love to post some video of Ross and Kulick at work, but, unfortunately, people don’t compile highlights of guys running head on into linebackers on the internet. It’s a shame. Somebody should. I’d watch.
You’ll just have to use your imagination. And when the season begins, remember to watch the guy standing in front of Akrum Wadley.