Continuing with our countdown to the kickoff of the football season, two players will wear #22 this season. One is listed as a running back, but I’m not overly confident that will be his position a couple years down the road, while the other is a transfer punter looking to take over punting duties his senior year.
Samson Evans — RS Freshman
Crystal Lake, IL (Prairie Ridge)
6’0”, 210 lbs
2019 Projection: Reserve RB
Michael Sleep-Dalton — Senior Transfer
Geelong, Australia (Arizona State)
6’1”, 212 lbs
2019 Projection: Starting Punter
Evans came to Iowa from the Chicago area where he racked up a number of accolades including the Chicago Sun Times Player of the Year and the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year. Evans won the award as a run first quarterback but his stats show that he could do a lot of things. He personally accounted for 2,915 total yards and 47 touchdowns as his Prairie Ridge team went undefeated and won their second straight Class 6A championship.
From the Gatorade website, rival coach Jon McLaughlin from Crystal Lake High School said, “Samson’s a fantastic football player. He’s deceptively fast, deceptively powerful. We couldn’t tackle him, and he’s been that way the past three years. It’s one of those thing where you know he’s going to get the ball, and yet you know you can’t do anything to stop him.”
While listed as a running back, with the depth at that position, look for Iowa to try to find creative ways to get him on the field.
Sleep-Dalton come to Iowa from Arizona State where he was the starting punter the past two seasons after sitting out one season at ASU after coming over from City College of San Francisco.
I look at punters like quarterbacks. If there is any hint of non-spectacular play, the second string punter or quarterback is the most popular player on the team. As Nate Stanley is locked in as the starter, the most popular player on the second string is Sleep-Dalton.
Currently at the top of the depth chart is senior Colten Rastetter. Rastetter averaged 37.8 and 38.9 yards per kick respectively in 2017 and 2018. Each year he punted at least 53 times.
Sleep-Dalton averaged 39.9 yards and 43.8 yards per kick in 2017 and 2018 and punted at least 59 times each year.
A lot has been made of Sleep-Dalton having a long kick of 72 yards last year but Rastetter was only three yards behind with a 69 year bomb against Northern Illinois. To me the big difference is that of Rastetter’s 53 kicks last year, only nine (17.0%) of them were fair caught. This means that if he didn’t angle them out of bounds, they had a chance to be returned. Sleep-Dalton had 20 of his 59 kicks fair caught (33.9%) so on the surface it looks like he gets a couple more yards of distance and a little bit more hang time.
While a couple yards could certainly mean the difference between a win and a loss, the best way to minimize the punter discussion in 2019 is to have the offense score more often. If they can keep their total punts under 45, there most likely won’t be much of a difference on who punts the ball.