Well, hell. In a day that was otherwise pretty damn awesome for Iowa football, there was one bit of bad news: freshman defensive end John Raymon is transferring. Hawkeye Insider's Rob Howe got the word straight from Raymon:
"Things just didn't work out at Iowa," the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder said. "They wanted me to stay and play at Iowa, but things just didn't work out. They told me that they hoped things would work out at another school.
"Mainly, I need to be closer to home," said Raymon, who is back in Pennsylvania.
Later, Raymon noted that he was considering Big East (West Virginia, Pitt) and ACC (North Carolina State) schools, and perhaps even another Big Ten school. (Although I'm not sure he realizes that Big Ten rules prevent him from receiving scholarship aid if he makes an intra-conference move.) There was chatter during training camp that Raymon was unhappy and homesick (he also sustained an injury, which had slowed his progress at Iowa) and looking to leave; he was talked into staying then, but now it seems like that was only a temporary fix. It's unfortunate, but if a guy's not happy, forcing him to stay isn't going to make things better.
Fortunately, Raymon's departure comes at a position where Iowa has solid depth and great recent recruiting success. Right, Mas Casa?
Iowa D-line is experiencing an attrition cluster that will affect the roster for at least two years.
Donovan Johnson and Anthony Ferguson have departed from the 2010 class. From '09, Tyler Harrell transferred, Marty Hopkins is not playing football and Scott Covert switched to fullback and left school. From '08, Jason Semmes transferred to Miami (Ohio).
Oh. Well, shit. That's not good. The state of the defensive line has been a source of much consternation this year and that may not change much next year, given the fact that three senior starters will again be gone and considerable attrition has sapped Iowa's depth at defensive end and defensive tackle. Iowa's going to need youngsters like Darian Cooper and Mike Hardy (among others) to get ready in a hurry. It's not clear what sort of on-field impact Raymon's departure will have since he was a true freshman in the midst of a redshirt year and (obviously) hadn't played a snap, but the buzz from the coaches on the rubber chicken circuit and from ye olde anonymous "inside sources" was that he could have been a quintessential "diamond in the rough" recruit for Iowa. He had offers from Illinois, Purdue, West Virginia, and North Carolina State when he committed to Iowa and he may have had a lot more if not for an untimely injury during his senior year.
But, really, the issue of how good Raymon might or might not have been is kind of irrelevant; the relevant (and concerning) issue is that he's yet another loss at a position where Iowa can ill afford more losses. The attrition at defensive line isn't as splashy as the attrition at running back (mainly because a lot of guys have left before ever really cracking the two-deeps or any sort of defensive line rotation), but it might be even more debilitating. With the loss of a running back (or four), there's at least the option of switching to a more pass-heavy offense (see: 2004). The absence of a decent defensive line leaves the Iowa defense without a spine, which is not good. Jellyfish may be the ocean's silent killers, but they're a really piss-poor model for a college football defense. So the accelerated development of the defensive linemen still in the program and the recruitment of new defensive linemen in this year's class now assumes top priority. This might be a good time to look at junior-college options, too. We don't really have the luxury of waiting a couple years for the usual Iowa process of "bulk up a linebacker and turn him into a defensive tackle" to kick in.