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

No. 14 – Amani Jones, Middle Linebacker

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No. 13 – Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Wide Receiver

No. 12 – A.J. Epenesa, Defensive End

No. 11 – Parker Hesse, Defensive End

No. 10 – Toren Young, Running Back

Projected Backup – Ivory Kelly-Martin.

Reason He’s Here – Young may have ended up higher on this list had the Hawkeyes not added junior college transfer Mehki Sargent to the roster in June. Still, the redshirt sophomore from Wisconsin projects as the lead back heading into the fall.

Young rushed for 193 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season. His action mostly came when the game was out of hand and the coaches wanted to rest Akrum Wadley and James Butler, both of whom have left for the NFL.

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At 5-foot-11, 221 pounds, Young is more of a downhill runner than was Wadley. He favors moving between the tackles but he’s not a slug and can get the outside if opponents overplay the inside.

Young also is a good receiver and developing as a blocker. He should keep the opposition honest with his ability to leak out of the backfield and do damage in the passing game.

He likely won’t see the 225-carry workload Wadley saw last year with Kelly-Martin and Sargent receiving their fair share of reps. Kelly-Martin is the change-of-pace back who is the best receiver of the group. Sargent is a nice mix of Young and Kelly-Martin, and has a season of college ball under his belt.

There’s a reason Young is listed as the starter, however. He’s the guy the Hawkeyes will most likely ride. And that’s a big deal in this offense.