IOWA CITY, Iowa – I started this exercise last year in July. As you can see, this summer has been a little busier.
Beginning today, we’ll count down the 15 most indispensable Hawkeyes for 2018. These are the players I believe the team can least afford to lose by way of injury, suspension, alien abduction or some other unforeseen reason.
I use several factors in generating this list. It starts with a given player’s ability. From there, experience, depth at a position, perceived development and a general sense of the roster are considered.
I’m guessing you guys will see things differently than me, at least to some degree. That’s OK. There’s plenty we don’t know at this point.
I had Manny Rugamba on this list last year and not Josh Jackson. That seems silly now but made sense at the time.
Let’s see if I can make a fool of myself again. I’m confident I can.
No. 15 – Alaric Jackson, Left Tackle
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Reason He’s Here – The last time we saw Jackson, he was helping Iowa’s offense roll over rival Nebraska in Lincoln. He missed the Pinstripe Bowl for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
He started spring ball at right tackle before the coaches decided his best spot was on the left side. Tristan Wirfs showed enough versatility to swing back to the right.
Jackson improved as last season progressed. He struggled at times with consistency, which seems reasonable for a redshirt freshman.
With another offseason under his belt and a year of experience to draw on, Jackson should step forward to more frequently protect quarterback Nate Stanley’s blind side. He’s an athletic 6-foot-7, 320 pounds as evidenced by him standing out in football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and track during high school.
Jackson, who enters his third season in the program, just turned 20. He arrived at Iowa still raw at football, having not taken up the sport until he was a sophomore. He’s added about 35 pounds since high school.
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Redshirt freshman Mark Kallenberger is the backup here and is receiving praise from the coaches for his development. We could see him slide over to right tackle and start in the season opener against Northern Illinois on Sept. 1 with Wirfs suspended following an OWI last month.
There being at three solid tackles on the roster keeps Jackson a little farther down this list than if depth was a bigger concern. Coaches and fans hope he enjoys the type of season that moves up him higher next year.
Editor’s Note: It was announced Wednesday that Jackson would miss the Sept. 1 season opener against Northern Illinois due to a violation of team rules.