TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz #86 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates after scoring on a 5 yard touchdown reception agianst the Iowa Hawkeyes during the fourth quarter of the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium on December 30, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sooners defeated the Hawkeyes 31-14. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Assume the Position is our offseason guide to the Iowa Hawkeyes football depth chart. The math is difficult, so take it from us: As time moves on, we'll know more. That's why we rank the positions from most certain to least certain.
Previously on ATP2k12:
Today: Tight End
The Crown Prince of Prussia
C.J. Fiedorowicz (#86, Junior, 6'7", 265, Johnsburg (IL) HS)
He's only been here a couple of years, but I feel like we've been writing about C.J. Fiedorowicz's potential since the day we started. Now, finally, the Polish Hat takes the crown.
Fiedorowicz was the jewel of the 2010 Iowa recruiting class, a four-star genetic freak of a tight end who played seven different positions in high school and was enough of a talent to draw offers from programs that don't even use tight ends. He initially committed to one of them -- Ron Zook's Illinois -- before switching to Iowa. Since then, he shrugged off a redshirt, blew people up on special teams as a true freshman, won the second-string tight end spot for his sophomore year, left the initial starter -- a four-year letterman -- in the dust, caught sixteen passes for 167 yards and a handful of touchdowns (including a touchdown in Iowa's bowl loss), and drew rave reviews from his new offensive coordinator. Not a bad two years.
For 2012, Fiedorowicz is probably Iowa's most potent offensive weapon. He's too big for defensive backs, too fast for linebackers, and too tall for just about everyone. He can be lined up at the end of the offensive line, in the slot, or even split wide. His time last season at second-string tight end -- a role that places the utmost emphasis on blocking and little else -- squelched any rumors of his insufficient blocking ability. He's everything he needs to be, and there's nobody else that matches his ability, tight end or otherwise. He's no longer just the Polish Hat. No, Fiedorowicz is the building block for the entire offense.
The Other Hat
Zach Derby (#85, Senior (RS), 6'3", 240, Iowa City HS)
His brother might have left the program under a cloud of broken promises and broken bus glass, but Zach Derby has inexplicably made it to the end of the line, a solid contributor to his local university. Derby came across town to enroll at Iowa in 2008 and landed a walk-on spot; many believed it was less due to his potential ability as a player and more his younger brother's already-heated recruitment. Nevertheless, Derby took a redshirt and spent another season on the sideline before finally seeing action in 2010. Two seasons in and out of the tight end depth chart have yielded five starts, thirteen catches and 134 yards, and he exited spring as the solid second-string tight end.
Derby doesn't have the natural athletic ability to seriously push Fiedorowicz, as we saw late last season. What he does have is four years of experience, some serious blocking ability, and a desire to contribute. He's a ready-made second tight end in the old offense. Whether that's necessary for the new offense to function will dictate what contribution Derby will make in his final season.
While You Wait for the Others
Ray Hamilton (#82, Sophomore, 6'5", 248, Strongsville (OH) HS)
Hamilton's the heir apparent when Polish Hat steps aside, a universal four-star recruit stolen from under Ohio State's nose. He played in ten games last season as a true freshman and caught one pass in the opener against Tennessee Tech (pretty much all of the rest of his playing time came on special teams). He's big and getting bigger -- he added nearly twenty pounds over the course of his first season -- and there's no denying his athletic talent. The concerns are academics (the rumors were swirling this winter, though there was no suspension) and blocking. We'll know much more this time next year.
Henry Krieger-Coble (#80, Freshman (RS), 6'4", 235, Mt. Pleasant (IA) HS)
The cousin of former Iowa basketball player Jess Settles, HKC was a camp commit in the summer of 2010. He checked the boxes and met the eye test, but there was remarkably little discussion of him during his redshirt season. He was skinny. He's a little less skinny now. But there's a lot of work to do here. Good news: He had a good spring.
Jake Duzey (#87, Freshman (RS), 6'4", 235, Athens HS (Troy, MI))
Given this offseason's coaching changes, Duzey might be the most interesting player on the roster. He's a complete wide receiver/tight end hybrid, he was a deep threat outside wide receiver in high school, and he had an impressive offer sheet for his star rating (Oregon, Purdue, and Cincinnati) mostly because he's a wide receiver trapped in a tight end's body. He might have been completely lost in a Ken O'Keefe system, but his unique ability set could serve him well under Greg Davis.