With the spring semester at the University of Iowa about to get underway and the recruiting class of 2020 essentially full, we’ve entered that time of year when just about any news coming out of the Iowa football program isn’t great news. True, the announcements former Hawkeyes Geno Stone, A.J. Epenesa, Tristan Wirfs and Toren Young plan to enter the NFL Draft isn’t exactly bad news, it does leave openings for the Hawkeyes entering 2020.
But by and large any Iowa football news item this time of year is likely to be of the departure for non-NFL reasons variety. That was the case with former QB Peyton Mansell and former kicker Caleb Shudak. Yesterday, we added one more departure to the list as we learned former 4-star offensive lineman Ezra Miller has left the football program due to persistent back issues.
Spoke to Ezra Miller's father, Patrick Miller, today and was told that unfortunately Ezra will have to medically retire from football due to ongoing back issues. He will remain in school at Iowa, but no longer playing football https://t.co/fwEqo1VqNA https://t.co/a8rPbECpMQ— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) January 15, 2020
Miller was once a prized recruit for the Hawkeyes and was thought to be yet another in a long line of linemen the Hawkeyes put into the NFL, along with Tristan Wirfs and eventually Alaric Jackson. Instead, he retires from football after a lone redshirt season in the program.
While Miller’s departure doesn’t impact Iowa’s depth chart heading into 2020, it does hurt their long term depth. This program will always be a developmental one and any time you lose high quality talent after time in the program, it’s difficult to replace.
However, the loss does move Iowa closer to the 85 scholarship limit they’ll need to hit before they enter fall camp. Currently, with 22 commits and 20 signed, sealed and delivered for the class of 2020, Iowa is at 86 players counting toward the limit (Miller will remain on scholarship, but will not count toward the limit given the medical issues). However, Keylen Gulley is still working to shore up academic issues that could prevent him from enrolling and Michael Lois is still working to iron out legal details should he not be cleared to play after breaking his neck in a pool accident last year.
If either of those two end up not on a football scholarship, Iowa will be at the limit of 85. But it’s unlikely Miller is the last departure before fall camp. Spring semester is prime time transfers when players see updated depth charts after winter workouts. With that in mind, we could still see Iowa add another recruit or two in 2020 or look to the transfer portal to fill holes along the defensive line heading into next season.
Best wishes to Ezra Miller. Once a Hawkeyes, always a Hawkeye.