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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes Release Initial 2020 Depth Chart

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We’re just over two weeks from the return of Iowa football and we have our first depth chart of the year.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Iowa
The Hawkeyes take the field for the first time in 2020 in little more than two weeks.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

We’re just outside two weeks from Iowa’s first game of the 2020 season against Purdue and as the season quickly approaches we’re finally getting a flood of information out of the program. Over the course of three days this week, the Hawkeyes had players from the defense and offense available to the media via Zoom, capped off with a call with head coach Kirk Ferentz scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

In advance of the call, the staff released the full media guide including their initial preseason depth chart for 2020. While it’s largely as you might expect, there are a few surprises.

Image via HawkeyeSports.com

There are quite a few similarities here to the projected depth chart we released earlier this week, but there are some notable differences.

Offense Observations

Shakeup at Guard

While we projected the two guard spots to be manned by Cole Banwart and either Justin Britt or Kyler Schott, the official depth chart has Banwart nowhere to be found. It’s also interesting that Britt isn’t listed as a guard, but is instead listed as the backup at center. We’ve known for a while that Britt could play center, but sliding him over now may be an indication of what the staff thinks Tyler Linderbaum will do after the season.

Cody Ince as the starter is a bit of a surprise. Not that he isn’t talented, just that between Banwart, Schott, Britt and a player we get to next, there didn’t appear to be much room for opportunity for Ince. However, it appears the RS sophomore has made the case to be the starter at guard.

Tackle Surprise

Since he announced his transfer earlier this year, it’s been assumed Coy Cronk was the heir apparent to Tristan Wirfs. So much so that we projected Mark Kallenberger to slide in to guard to battle for reps. In the initial depth chart, however, Kallenberger is listed as the starter opposite Alaric Jackson with Cronk as his backup. It will be interesting to see if that’s how things pan out week one.

Defense Observations

Linebackers Settled

One of the biggest question marks entering the season has been how the linebacking group will shake out. While not definitive for the whole season, we got some early indications today. Jack Campbell is officially the new starting middle linebacker with fellow sophomore Seth Benson listed as his primary backup. Jestin Jacobs cracks the two deeps at Will while senior Barrington Wade will man the Leo spot when Iowa is in their base 4-3 defense. That’s as we expected in our projections earlier this week.

Switch Up in the Secondary

With Geno Stone departed for the NFL, we knew there would be a change in the back end of Iowa’s defense. We had projected that to mean last year’s starting free safety, Kaevon Merriweather, might slide over to strong safety to play alongside Jack Koerner with Dane Belton manning the Cash position.

Belton is indeed listed as the Cash, but he is also the starter at SS. That’s something he had indicated during player availability earlier in the week. What we didn’t learn during those Zoom meetings was that redshirt freshman Sebastian Castro will be Belton’s primary backup at SS. Castro is a hard-hitter from the Chicago-land who will be an interesting player to follow. With Castro as Belton’s backup, that leaves Merriweather as Koerner’s primary backup at FS. What will be interesting for Iowa fans to see week one is whether Phil Parker calls on Merriweather or Castro to come in as the second safety when Belton is on the field at Cash.

Other Notables

  • Freshman Aussie Tory Taylor has come in and won the punting job out of the gate
  • Any semblance of a quarterback competition is completely settled with Spencer Petras the clear starter and Alex Padilla listed as his backup
  • Former 4-star DE John Waggoner is now a defensive tackle
  • Julius Brents is listed as Matt Hankins backup with Terry Roberts as the backup to Riley Moss
  • Grad transfer Jack Heflin is listed as the primary backup to Daviyon Nixon at DT
  • After being erroneously being left off our projected depth chart, Austin Spiewak is in fact the starting long snapper

Iowa is expected to release an updated depth chart ahead of its matchup with Purdue in two weeks.