Looking at Potential Playing Time for Hawkeye True Freshmen

August 18, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – A new rule allowing true freshmen to play in four games and still retain a redshirt year is one of the more intriguing aspects of this upcoming college football season. It’s likely to be a fluid situation for coaches and players.

There will be some new newcomers just too good to keep off the field. Others will emerge during the season. Injuries in front of them could change the landscape. We won’t know until we go through it.

There’s one thing we do know, though – some of them will play and likely more than usual with the new rule. So, who will it be? I’ll take a stab at their chances:

Dillon Doyle, Linebacker
Why He’ll Play: The son of strength coach Chris Doyle grew up around this program and enrolled in January. His previous knowledge of the system, the experience of spring ball and excellent athleticism places him in great position to see the field. At the very least, he can be a special teams’ asset.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 100 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 75 percent

Julius Brents, Cornerback
Why He’ll Play: The Indianapolis product enjoyed a strong start to training camp, earning praise from head coach Kirk Ferentz and defensive coordinator/secondary coach Phil Parker. He’s long and athletic at a position in need of help.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 100 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 75 percent

Tyler Linderbaum, Defensive Tackle
Why He’ll Play: An outstanding all-around athlete, Linderbaum is the rare type of first-year player capable of playing as a true freshman on the interior of the defensive line. The Solon graduate uses great leverage, instincts and knowledge of the game that are beyond his years.
Why He Won’t Play: He and the coaches agree it’s best for him to stay sidelined in ’18 or he’s injured.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 90 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 50 percent

Seth Benson, Linebacker
Why He’ll Play: The Sioux Falls (SD) Washington High product played a lot with the second team during the Kids Day scrimmage. Position coach Seth Wallace told me at media day that Benson has impressed him. Ferentz said the same thing. He looks physically advanced for a true freshman.
Why He Won’t Play: He and the coaches agree it’s best for him to stay sidelined in ’18 or he’s injured.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 80 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 70 percent

Jayden McDonald, Linebacker
Why He’ll Play: Wallace also mentioned the Georgia native when talking about linebackers who could see the field this year. He was held out of Kids Day with an undisclosed injury but has the potential to help, at minimum, on special teams this season.
Why He Won’t Play: He and the coaches agree it’s best for him to stay sidelined in ’18 or he’s injured.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 70 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 50 percent

Spencer Petras, Quarterback
Why He’ll Play: He shows enough growth during camp that the coaches want to get a look at him in a game-day atmosphere.
Why He Won’t Play: Injury or not enough reps.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 50 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 5 percent

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Nico Ragaini, Receiver
Why He’ll Play: Like Doyle and Petras, Ragaini enrolled in January. Unlike the other two, he spent a post-graduate year at prep school. He’s a nice mix of size, speed and hands, which he showed during the Kids Day scrimmage running with the second team.
Why He Won’t Play: Injured or falls back in the rotation.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 60 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 30 percent

Tyrone Tracy, Receiver
Why He’ll Play: He shows the coaches that his he’s too good to keep off the field at a crowded position.
Why He Won’t Play: Injury or doesn’t add more than what Hawkeyes get from slot guys like Nick Easley and Kyle Groeneweg.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 50 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 20 percent

Henry Geil, Running Back
Why He’ll Play: Either the coaches want to get a look at him in a game situation because he’s earned it or there’s an injury to one of the top three backs.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 40 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 10 percent

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Samson Evans, Running Back
Why He’ll Play: Similar reasons to why Geil would play. Evans also adds something in the receiving game that could help him see time.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 40 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 10 percent

Noah Shannon, Defensive Tackle
Why He’ll Play: The Illinois is physically ready. It will come down to there being reps available and him showing he can contribute.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 35 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 15 percent

Logan Klemp, Linebacker
Why He’ll Play: He shows he can be an asset on special teams or pushes his way into an open mix at linebacker.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 20 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 5 percent

Dallas Craddieth, Safety
Why He’ll Play: The opportunity exists at a thin safety spot. The Kansas City product is physically developed and hits hard. He did not see a lot of action during Kids Day practice, however.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 40 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 10 percent

Continue reading below

Kaevon Merriweather, Safety
Why He’ll Play: Merriweather is still a work in progress in football after focusing more on basketball earlier in his high school career. That athleticism could get him on the field on special teams, though. He saw a moderate amount of action during Kids Day practice.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 40 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 10 percent

Riley Moss, Safety
Why He’ll Play: Moss originally was a gray-shirt offer but can add athleticism early on special teams as he learns his position. He saw a moderate amount of action during Kids Day practice but showed some promise.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 40 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 10 percent

Terry Roberts, Cornerback
Why He’ll Play: There’s opportunity at his position and for playmakers on special teams. He ran mostly with third team at Kids Day.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 40 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 5 percent

D.J. Johnson, Cornerback
Why He’ll Play: He’s a gifted performer coming in at a position of need. He could add something to special teams.
Why He Won’t Play: He’s injured or the reps don’t present themselves.
Chances He Plays in at Least Four Games: 40 percent
Chances He Plays in More Than Four Games: 10 percent

I see the remainder of the ’18 class as likely redshirts.

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