Howe: Projecting Iowa Football’s First Depth Chart 2.0

September 28, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – I undertook the exercise of projecting the Iowa Football depth chart back at the end of July. A few weeks later, the Big Ten postponed the Fall season.

Not a lot has changed since my 1.o version of the two-deep but it’s worth rolling out 2.0. Reserve receiver Oliver Martin transferred to rival Nebraska and freshman punter Tory Taylor arrived from Australia after wrestling with visa issues.

There will be injuries. Potential COVID-19 positive tests are a real concern even when following strict guidelines. It’s impossible how those factors will impact the roster.

So, let’s proceed hoping for the best. Here’s my latest depth chart outlook with the season less than a month away from kicking off:

OFFENSE

QB

Starter – Spencer Petras, RS SO
Backup – Alex Padilla, RS FR

Skinny: Petras seems well ahead of the field here, so the competition comes down to Padilla and true freshman Deuce Hogan facing off to be his backup. It would make too much sense to red shirt Hogan in normal times but he can play this season and retain the year of eligibility with the NCAA altering its rules during the pandemic. Still, Hogan hasn’t had much time working with his teammates since arriving in June and Padilla has been around since January of 2019 with a spring practice session under his belt.

RB

Starter – Tyler Goodson, TR SO
Backup – Mekhi Sargent, RS SR

Skinny: Iowa uses a time-share in the backfield and the top two guys will see plenty of work. Ivory Kelly-Martin heads into camp as the No. 3 with the potential to increase his workload. Redshirt freshman Shadrick Byrd along with true freshmen Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams will be looking to crack the rotation.

FB

Starter – Monte Pottebaum, RS SO
Backup – Turner Pallissard, RS SO

Skinny: The competition to replace the talented Brady Ross could be a tight one. Iowa likes to use multiple players at fullback and a committee approach is a good one at an unforgiving position.

LT

Starter – Alaric Jackson, RS SR
Backup – Jack Plumb, RS SO

LG

Starter – Mark Kallenberger, RS JR
Backup – Justin Britt, RS FR

C

Starter – Tyler Linderbaum, RS SO
Backup – Cody Ince, RS SO

RG

Starter – Cole Banwart, RS SR
Backup – Kyler Schott, RS JR

RT

Starter – Coy Cronk, RS SR
Backup – Nick DeJong, RS FR

Skinny: Jackson and Linderbaum seem like the only guys locked into their spots. Competition at the other positions will be stiff with the potential for moving parts. Cronk could kick inside, Kallenberger could end up outside, and a guard rotation is probable. And there’s plenty of talent beyond the 10 players listed here.

TE

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Starter – Sam LaPorta, TR SO
Backup – Shaun Beyer, RS SR

Skinny: LaPorta established himself as a threat during the second half of last season and showed up on the Mackey Award preseason watch list. Beyer is poised for a strong senior season. Josiah Miamen will compete with incoming freshmen Elijah Yelverton and Luke Lachey for No. 3 on the depth chart.

WR

Starter – Ihmir Smith-Marsette, TR SR
Backup – Max Cooper, TR SR

Starter – Brandon Smith, TR SR
Backup – Desmond Hutson, RS FR

Starter – Nico Ragaini, RS SO
Backup – Tyrone Tracy, RS SO

Skinny: Don’t get caught up in Tracy being listed as a backup here. He’s the most versatile receiver in the group and will see starter reps along with Smith-Marsette, Smith and Ragaini. How many snaps are available beyond the top four and who gets them is the biggest question here. Keep an eye on Hutson, who coaches considered playing last season.

DEFENSE

LE

Starter – Chauncey Golston, RS SR
Backup – John Waggoner, RS SO

LT

Starter – Daviyon Nixon, RS JR
Backup – Noah Shannon, RS SO

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RT

Starter – Jack Heflin, RS SR
Backup – Austin Schulte, RS SR

RE

Starter – Logan Lee, RS FR
Backup – Zach VanValkenburg, RS SR/Joe Evans RS SO

Skinny: Iowa will continue employing a rotation on its defensive front and several guys have position flexibility. Nixon can slip outside, while Waggoner and Lee are capable of moving inside. Replacing AJ Epenesa’s pass rushing disruption is key and that will be a group effort.

WLB

Starter – Seth Benson, RS SO
Backup – Jestin Jacobs, RS FR

MLB

Starter – Nick Niemann, RS SR
Backup – Jack Campbell, RS FR

LEO

Starter – Barrington Wade, RS SR
Backup – Jestin Jacobs, RS FR

SKINNY: With the decreased use of the LEO, moving Niemann into the middle makes a lot of sense. It provides Campbell another year for development and puts a talented veteran on the field more. Of course, Campbell could end up starting in the middle with Niemann moving to the WIL, where Djimon Colbert started the last two years but has opted out for this season. Benson should have a good shot at being the starting WIL after backing up there last year.

CASH

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Starter – Kaevon Merriweather, RS SO
Backup – Reggie Bracy, TR FR

LC

Starter – Matt Hankins, TR SR
Backup – Terry Roberts, RS SO

RC

Starter – Riley Moss, TR JR
Backup – Julius Brents, RS SO

FS

Starter – Jack Koerner, RS JR
Backup – Dallas Craddieth, RS SO

SS

Starter – Dane Belton, TR SO
Backup – Sebastian Castro, RS FR

Skinny: The secondary competition will be interesting. It’s a talented group, which gives coach Phil Parker options. Redshirt freshman cornerback Jermari Harris is someone capable of pushing his way into this two-deep.

SPECIALISTS

K

Starter – Keith Duncan, RS SR
Backup – Caleb Shudak, SR SR

P

Starter – Tory Taylor, TR FR
Backup – Ryan Gersonde, RS JR/Nick Phelps, RS SO

LS

Starter – Austin Spiewak, RS SR
Backup – Zach Kluver, RS FR

KR

Starter – Ihmir Smith-Marsette, TR SR
Backup – Daraun McKinney, RS FR

PR

Starter – Max Cooper, TR SR
Backup – Nico Ragaini, RS SO

Skinny: The delayed season benefitted Iowa in that it allowed Taylor more time to work through visa issues brought on by the pandemic. Duncan and Smith-Marsette are among the best nationally at their respective spots.

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