In a bit of a surprise move on Monday night, starting safety Geno Stone announced his intentions to forego his senior year at Iowa and declare for the NFL draft.
The Tweet comes as a surprise for a few reasons: it’s kinda funny Stone was the first Iowa underclassmen to declare despite AJ Epenesa and Tristan Wirfs (and probably Ihmir Smith-Marsette) being more likely to do so given the hype surrounding them. Stone probably won’t be drafted until the mid or even later rounds, and I personally thought he’d stand a lot to gain by coming back for his senior year.
Selfishly, I loved watching Stone the past two years and was really looking forward to him captaining the defense in 2020.
But at 5-10 and 210 lbs, it’s likely Stone wouldn’t be able to improve his stock much with one more year of playing time under his belt. He’s coming off a season where he earned second-team all-conference honors from the AP and third team from the coaches. He had a third-most 70 tackles on the team in 2019, one pick, one sack and three tackles for a loss. He had 4 interceptions during a breakout sophomore season and was as sure a tackler as I’ve seen wear an Iowa uniform.
It’s hard to blame Stone: he’s seeing the success Iowa defensive backs like Amani Hooker and Desmond King and Micah Hyde are having in the league and wants in on that action. He was an unheralded recruit from Erie, PA who had committed to Kent State before signing with Iowa—his only power-5 offer. It’d be hard to say no to the opportunity in front of him right now.
Stone’s departure leaves a hole in Iowa’s defensive backfield that shouldn’t be too difficult to fill. Dane Belton was his backup at strong safety all year long on the two-deeps, but Belton filled Iowa’s cash position as the season wore on. Kaevon Merriweather was Iowa’s starting free safety until he got hurt early on and took a redshirt. Assuming Iowa keeps Jack Koerner there, I’d bet Merriweather gets a shot to slide over.
In any case, I’m not worried about the future of Iowa’s safety net. Best of luck to Mr. Stone. Go get paid. We look forward to watching you on Sunday’s.