As the 2021 college football season draws within driving distance, we’re beginning our breakdown of each of Iowa’s position groups heading into this season.
A few of those position groups are largely unchanged. In the defensive backfield, for example, Phil Parker has essentially every player set to return. Ditto for Brian Ferentz and Ken O’Keefe looking for their signal caller - much to the chagrin of Iowa fans everywhere.
But others have had some significant turnover. The defensive line, for example, lost three of four starters to the NFL. The wide receiver room similarly lost a pair of starters to the NFL. Everyone’s favorite kicker/kiss blowing savant Keith Duncan is also gone.
All told, Iowa lost a little more than 35% of their starters from a season ago. That’s to say nothing of the depth lost from players like Mekhi Sargent, Shaun Beyer or Barrington Wade. We’ll dive in to see who we expect to step into those roles, whether it be players who were of that depth ilk a season ago, or newcomers we might need to get to know in a hurry.
We’ll also take a look who is returning with an opportunity to step into a bigger role or perhaps emerge as that next NFL draft pick. Guys like Tyler Linderbaum and Tyler Goodson are already known quantities who are on NFL Draft big boards. But Sam LaPorta is a budding star who is still only projecting as Third Team All-Big Ten. Can he make the leap? What about the lone returning starter on the defensive line in Zach Van Valkenburg? Can Noah Shannon turn into some form of Daviyon Nixon?
There’s a lot of potential with a lot of question marks and we’ll be diving deep, position group by position group over the next several weeks.
As it stands today, here’s a quick look at the spring depth chart, which does not include incoming freshmen who have not yet arrived on campus.
Be sure to check back each week as we dive in to a new position group. We begin our march toward kickoff this week and culminate with our traditional predictions and guides to the season in the final weeks before September 4th.