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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes Release Spring Depth Chart

Spring has officially sprung as we get an early look at Iowa’s depth heading into 2021.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 05 Iowa at Illinois
Spencer Petras is #1 on the depth chart, but who will be #2 come fall camp?
Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Spring has officially sprung. While the Iowa Hawkeyes saw both the men’s and women’s basketball seasons come to an end over the last week plus with wrestling wrapping up their 24th national championship as well, we are not officially in a dead period of Iowa sports as the Hawkeye football team is here to save the day.

Monday marks the unofficial start to spring for football fans as Kirk Ferentz meets with the media and the team released its Spring Prospectus. That prospectus includes several newsworthy items. That includes the official profiles for Iowa’s new offensive assistant coaches. Here’s a look at new offensive line coach George Barnett, who was hired from Tulane where he had been for just under three months.

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And here’s your official profile for new running backs coach Ladell Betts, which is noticeably shorter than the rest of Iowa’s staff given his limited prior experience at the college level. Hawkeye fans will no doubt look forward to that resume expanding over the next few seasons in Iowa City.

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Much more interesting for fans this time of year than new coaching profiles, however, was the release of Iowa’s annual spring depth chart.

The Hawkeyes put out a fresh depth chart each spring and fans are quick to jump to conclusions about the implications for next season. This is, after all, a fan blog so you better believe we’re here to do just that. Here’s your look at the offensive depth chart as it stands today. As a reminder, this includes any freshmen or transfers who have already enrolled in classes at Iowa, but clearly not the incoming freshmen who will arrive later this summer.

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Offensive Depth Chart Takeaways

  • Alex Padilla is still the #2 guy on the depth chart. There is sure to be much consternation about the QB depth and any potential competition to unseat Spencer Petras next fall, but it’s important to remember that the staff hasn’t actually had any practice yet. Expecting a change from the final depth chart last fall here is a bit silly in that context. Perhaps everyone’s favorite Deuce Hogan can make some ground up this spring, but we’ve seen this movie before. It’s much more likely that Padilla enters the fall still “in an open competition to start” given he is most likely to hit the portal if he falls to third on the depth chart before classes start up. If Hogan is going to make any moves, expect that to come after Padilla is locked in to this fall.
  • Wide Receiver gets an overhaul with the departure of Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Iowa’s two slot guys from last year, Tyrone Tracy and Nico Ragaini, are now the starters on the outside. Incoming freshmen Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce are both on campus but aren’t yet listed here because, well, there hasn’t been practice yet. It will be interesting to see where things shake out here as Iowa currently has no WRs listed over 6’ tall.
  • At running back, it’s nice to see Ivory Kelly-Martin listed as Tyler Goodson’s primary backup. IKM has seen his career derailed by injury and being healthy enough to make the two-deeps going into spring (assuming this isn’t a case of KF simply forgetting something - we’ve seen that before) is a pleasant surprise. Look for the Williams (not) Brothers to add depth at the position this fall.
  • At tight end seeing Luke Lachey as the primary #2 should be a bit of an eye-opener. When Lachey and Elijah Yelverton committed to the Hawkeyes, Yelverton was the one with more stars, but Lachey is billed as an excellent athlete and early reports are he has been lighting things up as a very good blocker in-line and a guy that can utilize the entire route tree. Shaun Beyer is going to get his shot in the league, but it looks like with his departure Iowa again has two guys on the depth chart who are going to end up being coveted in the draft some day. That says nothing of guys like Josiah Miamen (who I still contend is vastly overlooked as a Noah Fant type who can out-athlete just about anyone forced to cover him) and the aforementioned Yelverton. It’s fun being a factory at certain positions.
  • Speaking of NFL factories, the OL has some changes this year (assistant coaching change aside). Cody Ince finished last season as Iowa’s starting left guard and he enters the spring as Iowa’s starting right tackle. As our own Thad Nelson pointed out, he’s got great feet and this seems like a good way to get the best five on the line with Justin Britt stepping into a starting guard spot opposite Kyler Schott. It also moves Jack Plumb from right tackle to left tackle where he’ll be protecting (presumably) Spencer Petras’ blind side.
  • And last but not least, the Baum Squad is back to defuse any potentially dangerous situations for Iowa’s offense this season.

Now let’s take a look at the other side of the ball where Iowa has some big names to replace in a few key positions. Again, as a reminder this is entering spring practice, not exiting so things may change dramatically between now and week 1.

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Defensive Depth Chart Takeaways

  • On the defensive line, it’s interesting to see John Waggoner slide from right end to left end and jump into a starting role ahead of Joe Evans. It seems clear the staff views Evans as a situational player still rather than an every down starter. It’s also interesting to see Chris Reames make the two deeps in Waggoner’s old spot on the right side behind Zach VanValkenburg while the highly touted Deontae Craig has yet to emerge. Defensive end will be a spot to keep an eye on through fall camp.
  • Even more than defensive end, tackle is a major area to watch all spring and fall. With Daviyon Nixon headed to the NFL and both Jack Heflin and Austin Schulte graduating, there is a major void in the middle. Noah Shannon has slid into one of those starting spots, but the other appears to have been taken by RS freshman Yahya Black. Black earned time last fall in spurts and rumor has it he has really turned heads in practice since he arrived on campus. It’s also worth noting the two Logans that fill the backup roles on the current depth chart. Logan Lee was a 4-star tight end recruit who has moved to defense and looks like he could make an impact at either end or tackle in the future. Logan Jones is another high profile recruit who has come in and wowed in the weight room, already setting the defensive tackle record for squat and hang clean. He clearly works out.
  • At linebacker, it’s a bit interesting to see Seth Benson at middle linebacker and Jack Campbell at WILL. I think most people would have expected those flipped and maybe they will be come fall. It’s also an exciting depth chart to look at seeing Higgins and Jacobs behind those two. Lot of talent in the linebacker room, yet it still seems difficult to get them all on the field with the use of CASH and Dane Belton’s emergence as a star in that role.
  • An option last year was to drop Belton to safety and play with three linebackers more, but that seems less likely in 2021 given the new-found depth in the secondary. With Matt Hankins back for an extra year, there are no surprises at corner. The starting safeties remain unchanged from a season ago as well, but true sophomore Reggie Bracy has been added as the backup SS where Belton used to slide. One thing to really watch entering the fall is where exactly UNI transfer Xavior Williams fits in. He has flexibility to play safety or corner, but there don’t appear to be any real holes to fill at the moment.

As noted above, head coach Kirk Ferentz has media availability on Monday that we’ll recap on Tuesday. That’s when the Hawkeyes officially retake the field to kick off spring practice. While those practices are not open to the public, we should start to get early reports of how things look in the coming weeks.

There are also early rumblings we may in fact get TWO open practices this spring after the Big Ten announced they would allow fan attendance in accordance with local ordinances. Rumor has it we may see fans allowed on April 17th and May 1st. If that comes to fruition, we should get some much anticipated reports on how things look heading into summer.