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2016 IOWA HAWKEYE SPRING FOOTBALL POSITION BATTLES: OFFENSIVE GUARD

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Jordan Walsh has moved on, who locks down his spot?

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IOWA LOSES TWO SENIORS along the offensive line from the 2015 team. Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh are set to earn money playing the game next year. Iowa has sophomore James Daniels inked as the replacement for Blythe at center but he's missing this spring due to injury. Center may still be his next fall, but there will be a hot battle for Walsh's spot.

The early depth chart lists Boone Myers, former starter at left tackle as the current starter at left guard. There's plenty of youth right behind Myers and he's a Cole Croston or Ike Boettger injury away from returning to one of the tackle spots. Can the former walk-on Myers hold it down or will one of the red-shirt freshmen take his place? Let's look at the options.

RYAN WARD SR 6'5" 295

He's not a youngster and was passed over last year by a walk-on in Myers and a former tight end recruit in Boettger. Ward has earned spot duty as a backup throughout his career and filled in at tight end in some goal line situations. He was a four-star prospect that hasn't had a four-star career. He's likely not replacing either tackle and would still be behind Myers if there's an injury there. Ward might find his feet at guard but career backup might be the ceiling. Ferentz likes to mention "good stories" and Ward would certainly be that if he finds his way into the starting five.

KEEGAN RENDER SO 6'4" 308

Render was the best offensive line prospect in the underwhelming 2014 offensive line class. He's been the first one to break into the two-deeps and still has three seasons to go. Render has been on the heavier side most of his time at Iowa. He may not be the quickest option at either guard or tackle. Still, he could spend all four years of eligibility in Iowa's two-deeps and if he reshapes his body he'll improve on the field.

ROSS REYNOLDS SO 6'4" 300

Reynolds is also a part of that 2014 recruiting class and was a late add out of Waukee, Iowa. He's the type of prospect you put on the shelf and wait for a while. He's entering his sophomore season and that still may be too soon to expect much at this point. Think Connor Bofelli, who had a pretty good senior season at Iowa.

LUCAS LEGRAND SO 6'5" 290

Similar to Reynolds, it may be too soon to expect much from LeGrand. He was thought to be a center prospect but if so, he's behind walk-on Steve Ferentz on the depth chart. LeGrand came to Iowa on the light side at 260 but has since worked his body up to a Big Ten capable 290 pounds. He's kind of been a forgotten man, but could make some waves this spring and work into the second unit.

BRETT WAECHTER RS FR 6'5" 290

Sean Welsh got his career started as a red-shirt freshman and after missing last spring, emerged as perhaps Iowa's best lineman heading into 2016. Waechter may very well remind a lot of Welsh that first year in the lineup. Waechter, like James Daniels, arrived last spring and experienced spring practice, but he was limited after a shoulder injury. That added experience gives him a step ahead of the Paulsen twins and he could be a fixture along Iowa's line for 3-4 seasons.

PAULSEN TWINS RS FR 6'5" 305

Both Levi and Landon added 15 pounds to their bodies in their first season on campus. They came to Iowa with the expectation that they'd be shaped and molded. They both expressed patience with the building process through signing day interviews. That doesn't mean they are still years away from playing time. Starting this year could be an unrealistic expectation but participating with the second unit shouldn't. If they are both interior linemen or if the coaching staff wants to line them up on the same side remains to be seen. They're tall enough for tackle and Iowa has a shortage of those.

JAKE NEWBORG RS FR 6'3" 290

Newborg, like LeGrand, is kind of a forgotten man in the lower ranks of Iowa's offensive line. In Newborg's case, that might be because he was a defensive line prospect in high school and committed to Iowa a year and a half before signing day. He's on the shorter side and seems destined for guard or center. He added 10 pounds this offseason and may challenge Steve Ferentz for second team center duties if LeGrand can't do it.