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Free-For-All Friday: James Butler and Akrum Wadley Get a Mic, We Get Hyped

The Iowa Football video crew put out some great content with James Butler and Akrum Wadley last week. What did we love? What do we want to see next week? Let’s find out.

Iowa v Rutgers
Akrum Wadley is really good at football. He’s also a lot of fun to listen to in fall camp.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

JPinIC: Welcome back to reality, Jerry! Congratulations to you and your lovely bride. Hope you guys got to enjoy some much needed R & R after all the work and planning that goes into a wedding and pumping out FFF content right up until the big day. How you feelin’ my man? Got a nice little sunburn? Did you miss me?

Hello Jerry: Who said anything about reality? I'm still currently sitting by the pool of Kauai’s Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa and enjoying a couple Lava Flows. But thank you for the kind words. It's been a wonderful three weeks, I assure you that.

JPinIC: Your wife is a saint. Or she has no idea what you are doing.

Hello Jerry: Luckily, my wife is taking a nap. It's been a rough day so far that has consisted of eating breakfast and making dinner reservations. Life's hard in Hawaii.

Anyways, yes I missed you. I missed all of you so much that I I decided I couldn't possibly miss one more of these. Oh, and yes, I have a pretty mean sunburn after my five hour booze cruise yesterday. But, because I am a graduate of Iowa, I know how important it is to play hurt; so here I am, like the true gamer I am.

Now, what do we have on the docket this week, JP? Please tell me we're having a little fun with the 14 minute video that was released to the masses?

JPinIC: I have to say, I admire your commitment to the Pants and the Hawkeyes man. Not only are you sitting here shooting the breeze with me on your honeymoon, but you’ve stayed in the Iowa Football loop enough to have seen the most recent work of the Hawkeye’s video staff, which was amazing. So kudos on that. And since you asked, you’re damn right we’re talking about it!

Aside from what @BoilerHawk already pointed out in his Zap-Ruth-Er examination of the production, I really want to know a few things about this video. First, and perhaps most importantly, whose idea was it to slap a mic on Akrum Wadley and James Butler? I mean, this was just what the Hawkeye fan doctor ordered. But coming off a Big Ten Media Day snuff, who would’ve guessed the Captain would let a video crew throw a mic on Akrum Wadley and follow him with a camera long enough to get 14 minutes worth of usable content?

I am truly baffled. I can’t imagine it was Kirk’s idea, but the simple fact he signed off on it (we all know nothing leaves that group without his say-so) astonishes me. Is it a sign he’s getting more edgy with age? Is Brian rubbing off on him that much? How did this happen?

Hello Jerry: ….

Sorry, just got out of the pool. It's hot over here.

I think you're spot on with your last point; Brian Ferentz is rubbing off on him/taking over. There's a reason that BF was prominently featured in front of his desk for a one-on-one interview and KF was only seen in a candid talk in front of the entire team. This is BF’s offense. And Akrum Wadley and James Butler are his running backs. On top of that, I truly believe that BF knows how important it is to pump up his guys (especially those that have legit shots at national awards and a future in the NFL). This mixture of young and old Ferentz is the perfect blend of giving the people what they want, understanding the current NCAA climate and the hard assed “SNORT!” we all know and love.

Like, could you imagine Marvin McNutt getting mic’d up? Hell no! DJK was around too much to ever let that happen.


Hello Jerry: But now, Iowa is the developmental program that “gets it”. And to me, that's all because of Brian (I’m still 100% on board for getting his face tattooed on my body if he gets Wadley a Heisman or gets us to a Big Ten Championship).

With all of that said, let's discuss the RB’s. What got you most excited in that video? Were there any moments when you felt the stars of the show “underperformed” (what a missed opportunity to pull a Perry Jones when Wadley was asking how many yards they were going to rack up)? And most importantly, how much do you love James Butler’s excitement over the full back position?

JPinIC: First, yes I absolutely love everything about James Butler. The kid seems like the best possible fit you could find in a grad transfer for this Iowa program. Brian nailed it when he said the biggest mistake may have been not getting him here for the full 4 years. Love the FB love. Love the rooming with some big uglies. Love his complete selflessness. And love that he and Akrum seem to get along really well. One of our esteemed commenters said something the other day that I think was perfect (shouts to whoever among you that was, feel free to identify yourself to receive your gold pants sticker): “Wadley and Butler seem like the kids who met for the first time at camp and after a week seem like they’ve been best friends for life.” Yup, I’m here for that.

Now, what got me most excited? Uhhhh, it wasn’t the RBs. I was already pretty excited about them. What really got me excited was the number of deep passes I saw and the number of WRs actually open downfield. Now, that could just be that the DBs are in trouble, but given the depth there and the fact we actually have some guys returning (not that Miles Taylor’s best asset is his coverage skills, but Josh Jackson, Manny Rugamba and Michael Ojemudia are solid corners in my opinion) I was pretty excited by that.

The biggest question mark this offseason has been what the offense will look like now that we are out from under the anchor weight of Greg Davis’s 3-yard out route. Obviously, there are big questions at QB with the departure of CJ Beathard and with so many new faces at WR, I’ve been pretty worried. But seeing those guys flying downfield and actually showing off some speed and hauling passes in got me pretty jacked. That’s exactly what the doctor ordered to soften up the defense and keep the 8 (or 9) man box plays to a minimum.

What about you, Jer?

Hello Jerry: As the resident big ugly fanboy at the pants, I was looking closely that the work the line was putting in to open up holes for BUTWAD. It was exactly what I expected. I wrote about the starting line earlier this summer and how the unit is going to be the lifeblood of this offense and they didn't disappoint in this video. Did you see the pancake by Tristan Wirfs in the first 20 seconds? Did you see Ike Boettger out in front of Wadley like a runaway freight train around the 8-minute mark? They say that defenses are usually ahead of the offense early in camp, but this is Iowa and the linemen were demonstrating some nice early dominance. It makes me so excited for my Monday Trench Warfare posts.

Secondly, I too was in awe over a pass catcher… but it wasn't of the WR kind. It was Noah Fant.

That. Dude. Is. Ginormous. Just look at this play! He's towering over everyone on that field.

I started getting flashbacks of Tony Moeaki (when he was healthy) in the middle of the field on those Rick Rolls (God, do I miss those Rick Rolls. I was drooling as I rewound that at the pool and it wasn't from the Mai Tai’s.). That catch on the sideline at the end of the video was so good to see. I have high hopes for the unit as a whole, and if Fant is able to run past dudes while also being able to chip and block (something the video staff showed glimpses of), whoever the QB ends up being is going to have one hell of a weapon at their disposal.

Oh, and before I send it back to you, how excited for Max Cooper are you on a scale from Matt VandeBerg to Andy Brodell?

JPinIC: Tony Mo! Oh how I’ve missed thee. I am definitely excited about Fant and the TE usage in general. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed, but I’m really hoping to see a few of the good things we got from KoK back when he was everyone’s favorite scapegoat (i.e. play-action bombs, QB rollouts, TEs streaking free down the middle of the field).

And if I’m hoping to see more play-action deep throws, you know I’m excited by what we’ve seen out of Max Cooper so far. I think it was Chad Liestikow of the DMR who said on the HawkCentral podcast that Cooper was his sleeper and on the 2-deeps. After the first two weeks of camp photos and what we’ve seen in that video, I think he’s onto something. I’m never leaving the Brandon Smith hype train, but Cooper is reportedly looking very good. He was a high school sprinter if I recall and between the video of him streaking downfield behind the defense and the photos of one-handed catches, yeah I’m excited.

What’s really thrilling (and hey, it’s early August and none of these guys have seen Big Ten competition so take it FWIW) is Cooper isn’t even the guy Coach Copeland has said is the real deep threat. That honor goes to Ihmir Smith-Marsette. You know, the guy that starts that whole video with a sweet grab and who’s graced a number of camp photos in the endzone?

Yeah, I’m feeling probably too excited about this young WR group. Is it Overreaction Monday yet?

Man, I need a cold shower, Jer. Seriously, that video was so fantastic. What are you hoping to see next? How do Max Allen, Chris Ruth and the rest of the video crew top this one for you?

Hello Jerry: I’ll tell you how. Mic up BF and Tim Polasek. You brought up the Hawk Central Pod earlier and were there a better two interviews on that show during the offseason than BF and Polasek? No shot!

These are the guys that have put the wind back in the sails of this program (sorry if you don't like that metaphor, I’m just wishing I was back on a 5 hour booze cruise that took me to real life Jurassic Park).

JPinIC: I feel like that’s a fantastic metaphor if for no other reason than to troll PJ Fleck. You wanna row the boat? Great technology. We’re going to go ahead and let the wind do the work.

Hello Jerry: It's easy to mic up someone like Josey Jewell for a 15-minute defensive side vid and we'll all love it. It's content. More specifically, it's football content featuring one of the most likable and dominating linebackers we've seen. But wouldn't we all like to get into BF’s and Polasek’s mind more? Those small snippets with Leistikow and the gang weren't enough to end to my major offensive appetite. Plus, wouldn't it be fun to Zapruther that video as a community?

Try as you might, JP, but I will NOT change my mind on this matter. Give me more BF and Polasek.

JPinIC: I think you nailed it, buddy. But I don’t just want the on-field stuff, I would love to just be a fly on the wall in the film room, in the coaches’ disucussions, all out Hard Knocks stuff. My favorite part about Hard Knocks is listening to them rip apart guys in film room and then talk candidly amongst the coaching staff. I don’t think Kirk Ferentz ever lets something like that happen, but I also didn’t think we’d see a mic on Akrum Wadley either.

Can you imagine how fantastic it would be listening to Brian Ferentz and Tim Polasek in an offensive line film breakdown just destroying some minor detail in a lineman’s technique? I have fond memories of learning new words from Rex Ryan and Bill O’Brien and I feel like these guys have the passion to continue expanding my vocabulary.

But the other two groups I’d like to hear from, if we’re limiting this to players, is the defensive backs and wide receivers. Obviously, we are all waiting with baited breath to see what shakes out at receiver. But what really has me interested in getting a mic on these guys is the nature of WRs and DBs. You ask anyone that’s ever been around football and they’ll all tell you these two position groups talk more crap than anyone else. I’d love to just listen to them go back and forth.

We heard Wadley doing some talking during a few drills and team period (“Easy money!”), but you KNOW Manny Rugamba is letting these freshmen WRs know every time he breaks up a pass or picks one off. And I would love to know which of these freshmen have the swag to get right back in the DB’s ear when they find paydirt.

My sleeper pick: just follow the OL. Let me watch Tristan Wirfs match up with AJ Epenesa on repeat for 5 minutes and then give me 10 minutes of these guys in the buffet line. I hope they brought their stretchy pants.

What about you guys? What had you most excited about that video? Who do you most want to see featured next week? Let’s hear it!