IOWA CITY, Iowa - The term "breakout player" comes with multiple definitions. It could be an unknown guy becoming more widely known. It might be a known player becoming a star.
For this piece, we'll go with the latter. Here are five student-athletes on the Iowa Football team who I think can be all-Big Ten after not having earned that honor in the past:
-Jack Campbell, LB - The true junior from Cedar Falls is going to make a lot of analysts now releasing their "top linebackers in the country for 2021" look silly this fall. "Playing downhill" is overused but it applies to Campbell, who appears to be running down a steep incline whenever he's on the field. The only thing holding him back to this point has been health. If he navigates the upcoming campaign with a clean bill, he'll be on the all-league team.
-Cody Ince, OL - With all due respect to the other candidates, the fourth-year junior from Wisconsin might be the best offensive lineman on team not named Tyler Linderbaum. Ince is a tremendous athlete who's capable of playing inside or out. He missed spring ball with a lower body injury, so he'll need to polish up his game and knock off some rust during summer camp. That said, he's ready to break out after working his way up the depth chart.
-Kaevon Merriweather, S - The Michigan product persevered after an injury contributed to him losing his starting free safety spot to Jack Koerner back in '19. He settled in at strong safety last season and improved as year progressed. Merriweather was playing even faster this spring and his physicality has never been in question. A raw football player when he arrived at Iowa with more pedigree in basketball, Merriweather is poised to become a household name.
-Riley Moss, CB - Moss appeared to be one of the most improved players from the end of last season through spring ball. The Ankeny (IA) Centennial High graduate took a step forward with consistency in '20. He's shown a nose for the football since playing as a true freshman. At 6-foot-1, 191 pounds, Moss can high-point the ball as well as most receivers, and he's physical enough to slide over to the CASH spot. The breakout is coming.
-Tyrone Tracy, Jr., WR - Playing in the shadows of the now departed Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette the last two seasons, Tracy Jr. has patiently waited for his turn. It's here and one of the better seasons we've seen from an Iowa receiver in recent memory is possible provided he's given the opportunity. And that's a sore subject for some folks. The Indianapolis native is one of the team's top playmakers. He needs to ball in his hands.