Over the past couple of months, we’ve gone over the best players in each position group the Hawkeyes will face in 2017. In doing so, we learned that there is no shortage of star power on this season’s slate.
Now it’s time to take a look at some under-the radar guys who could wreck some of Iowa’s plans if the Hawkeyes aren’t ready for, or fully respecting, their abilities. Some of these players have proven track records, while others have the potential to blow up in 2017.
Here are five guys to keep an eye on.
Jeffrey Wilson, Running Back, North Texas
Wilson has the look of Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back and former Boise State Bronco Doug Martin. He’s a shifty back with good vision, breakaway speed and above average ability as a receiver out of the backfield. In 2016, he had over 1,110 all purpose yards and 15 touchdowns. The longer it takes the Hawkeye defense to get a handle on him, the longer a game that shouldn’t be close could last.
Logan Wilson, Linebacker, Wyoming
Wilson moves from outside linebacker to the inside after a tremendous breakout freshman season. Originally recruited to play safety, the 6’2, 225-pounder still has all of the speed and athleticism of a FBS defensive back. He uses those traits to run down ball carriers and receivers from sideline to sideline. In 2016, he logged 94 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions. Those numbers and his overall performance earned him Freshman of the Year honors in the Mountain West.
Flynn Nagel, Wide Receiver, Northwestern
Nagel is your prototypical slot receiver: undersized and solid in his route running. He could very well be Northwestern’s primary receiving threat in 2017. He has a knack for finding openings in covering and coming down with clutch grabs to keep drives moving. But don’t be fooled, he’s no possession guy. He has the speed to turn a short route into an 80-yard jaunt to the end zone with one wiggle and a missed tackle.
Felton Davis III, Wide Receiver, Michigan State
Stats don’t tell the story with Davis, as he’s all potential. Some had projected him to have a breakout season last year, but recovery from a spring injury and just a flat out overall team performance from the Spartans derailed that. At 6’4, 200 pounds, he’s a handful to cover coming off the line of scrimmage. He’ll be even tougher in the red zone, especially for an inexperienced Iowa secondary still finding its way during September.
Olive Sagapolu, Defensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Sagapolu should be the lynchpin of the Badger front seven in 2017. The 340-pounder is coming into is own and is poised to asset himself as the premier interior defensive lineman in the conference. His size and aggressiveness off the ball is going to be a tough hurdle to overcome for any team looking to run the ball on Wisconsin — Iowa included. His ability to both clog and blow up the gap will redirect runners into the path of the outstanding linebacker behind him. For all of those reasons, he’s getting some preseason love as a possible all-conference player.