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Hawkeye Football: Tracking Departure Decisions of Iowa Upperclassmen

The Hawkeyes have several key players with big decisions looming, whether that be the NFL draft of the NCAA Transfer Portal.

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Who is done putting the tigerhawk on their helmet and who is coming back?
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Note: This is an updating story. As new announcements are made, this story will be updated to reflect the changes. When an update is made, it will be noted as such below the updated content.

The Iowa Hawkeyes wrapped up their 2021 season with a disappointing Citrus Bowl loss to Kentucky on New Year’s Day. That capped off a 10-4 season that was full of ups and downs. Now Hawkeye fans turn their attention to basketball, wrestling, and of course, next football season.

While a lot of fan excitement surrounds prep recruiting, perhaps no bigger recruiting job stands in front of the Hawkeye coaching staff than that of the players already on the roster. Iowa has several players with big decisions ahead of them and a few who have already made an announcement. Each of those decisions will have a major ramifications for the scholarship distribution chart and in turn, potentially the depth chart for the Hawkeyes in 2022.

As things currently stand, the Hawkeyes have 81 scholarship players remaining on the roster or signed in the recruiting class of 2022. That class includes a total of 17 scholarship players in the early period and the final number will be determined in part by the upcoming decisions of Iowa’s upperclassmen.

That leaves 64 players currently on scholarship on Iowa’s roster, a number that is likely to shrink in the coming weeks as players enter the transfer portal or make their NFL draft decision. As each of those decisions are made, we’ll update the list below to reflect the decisions.

Decisions Already Announced

The Portal

Since the start of the 2021 season, the Hawkeyes have had five scholarship players enter the transfer portal. Notably, all of them have come from the offensive side of the ball with three of the five coming at the wide receiver position. That’s perhaps to be expected when you have a pair of true freshmen take significant snaps at the position, jumping players on the depth chart who had been in the program for multiple years.

The first to look for greener pastures was Florida native Quavon Matthews. He announced his decision to enter the portal in early October.

To-date, Matthews has not yet announced his next destination.

Just over a month after Matthews hit the portal, the Hawkeyes lost tight end Josiah Miamen to the transfer portal. Miamen was believed to be third on the depth chart at the time, but had been cited for a DUI in the offseason and was firmly behind Sam LaPorta and Luke Lachey with Elijah Yelverton also pushing for that third spot.

Like Matthews, Miamen has not yet announced where he’ll be playing next season.

***UPDATE 1/12/2022***

Miamen will be heading to Florida International.

A little over a week after Miamen announced his decision to depart, the Hawkeyes lost their second wide receiver to the portal when Desmond Hutson made his announcement.

As with Matthews, Hutson had been passed by Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce. Early playing time for walk-on Jackson Ritter was also probably not a great sign for his future in Iowa City.

Hutson has since announced he’s accepted a spot at Northern Iowa.

A little over a week after Hutson announced his decision, Hawkeye fans got wind of perhaps the most controversial departure. Texas quarterback Deuce Hogan had long been a fan favorite, but after a poor-taste joke following Iowa’s win over Nebraska on Black Friday, Hogan hit the portal.

Hogan threw one pass in his time at Iowa, but never climbed higher than third on the depth chart behind Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla. He was reportedly jumped by freshman Joey Labas as well. Hogan has not yet announced where he will be playing next.

***UPDATED 1/7/2022***

Hogan announced via Twitter that he’s headed to the University of Kentucky. He will be a walk-on upon arrival, working to earn a scholarship.

While Hogan was a name Hawkeye fans loved, the most impactful transfer Iowa has seen this season came a few days later when wide receiver Tyrone Tracy announced his plans to depart. Tracy had lost touches to the two freshman, but was still listed as a starter and was receiving a decent portion of snaps.

Tracy is the only player who has already announced he’ll be taking a scholarship offer from another power 5 program next year as he’ll be lining up against the Hawkeyes for Purdue and Jeff Brohm.

NFL Draft

While the loss of Tracy was a big one, an even bigger one from a production standpoint was the announcement from Tyler Goodson that he would not only be departing for the NFL, but also opting out of Iowa’s Citrus Bowl matchup with Kentucky.

Goodson was a 1,000-yard rusher this season and a 1st Team All-Big Ten selection a season ago. He finished his Hawkeyes career with more than 3,000 all-purpose yards as he rushed for 2,551 and 18 TDs on 4.8 yards per carry while adding 565 yards and a receiving touchdown. As the NFL draft draws closer, we’ll dive into his draft stock and where various analysts have him projected in mock drafts.

While Goodson’s decision was a big one, Iowa fans got a glimpse of the future at RB during the Citrus Bowl as both Gavin and Leshon Williams looked very good.

One area the Hawkeyes may need to turn to players not already on the roster to fill a new hole is at safety. Jack Koerner went from walk on to stalwart in the back end of Phil Parker’s defense in what is becoming a theme.

Following Iowa’s loss to Kentucky on New Year’s Day, however, Koerner announced he would not be making use of his COVID year to return to Iowa City in 2022 and will instead be entering the NFL Draft.

With Goodson and Koerner already headed to the NFL, we now wait to see what some other impact players choose to do this offseason. Here’s a look at the big decisions Hawkeye fans will be watching in the coming weeks.

Notable Decisions Looming

The biggest decision to be made is that of All-American center Tyler Linderbaum. The junior theoretically has two more years of eligibility if he chooses to use them given everyone on the roster in 2020 has the option of a COVID year. There have been reports on both sides with Linderbaum - one rumor that he absolutely loves being a college football player and playing for the Hawkeyes so may wait, the other that his decision has been made for weeks given his high draft profile.

***UPDATE 1/14/2022***

Linderbaum formally announced on Friday that he intends to enter the NFL Draft, putting to bed speculation that his love for Iowa football and being a college player might outweigh his draft capital. At the end of the day, however, he made the right choice. We’ll dive deeper into the mock draft scenarios in the coming months, but Linderbaum is being talked about as a sure-fire first round pick, a rarity for centers, and a potential top-15 pick. That’s serious money and even if Lindy wanted to come back, it’s hard to envision Kirk Ferentz not all but pushing him out the door to get paid.

Best of luck to Tyler Linderbaum and thanks for the memories.

Linderbaum and everyone else considering making the jump will have until January 17th to submit their paperwork to the NFL. They then have 72-hour window to reconsider.

Iowa’s big man in the middle isn’t the only key piece who could be leaving early. Tight end Sam LaPorta is a junior who would likely hear his name called in the NFL draft, though how high he would go is in question.

That’s a similar story for defensive back Dane Belton. Belton has a similar draft profile to former Hawkeyes Geno Stone and Amani Hooker who both left early but went later than their Hawkeye accolades may have indicated. But at the end of the day, both are not only on a roster, but making an impact in the league. And plenty of cash.

***UPDATE 1/8/2022***

Dane Belton is leaving early for the NFL, following in the footsteps of every player to start a full season at Phil Parker’s cash position.

That opens a spot in the secondary for a newcomer like Xavier Nwankpa, a corner stuck behind Riley Moss after he announced his return, or perhaps another young guy already on the roster such as Sebastian Castro.

Fellow defensive back Riley Moss has a different profile but the same decision to make. He’s not counted in the 64 scholarship players described above because he was a senior in 2021. However, as mentioned with Linderbaum, Moss has the option to return and use a COVID year. As crazy as that might sound for the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, Moss did miss significant time with a knee injury and it’s possible he thinks he could improve his draft stock with a full season next year.

***UPDATE 1/5/2022***

Riley Moss announced via Twitter on January 5th he intends to return to Iowa for an extra year. A major boost to Iowa’s secondary in 2022.

Beyond the defensive backs, Iowa has a pair of linebackers who may have some things to consider. Jack Campbell is a junior while Jestin Jacobs is a sophomore and both had terrific seasons for the Hawkeyes. Campbell was a third team All-Big Ten selection this year and could look to make the jump. Jacobs was less newsworthy, but burst onto the scene early this season and has the physical tools to be a draft board climber the moment he makes a decision.

***UPDATE 1/12/2022***

Campbell announced his return.

But perhaps the decisions most on Iowa fans’ collective minds is that of the two quarterbacks. The Hawkeyes started Spencer Petras most of the year despite major struggles. The consensus thinking was backup Alex Padilla was likely to hit the portal.

Then Petras got injured and Padilla got his chance. He led Iowa to three victories, but statistically he was even worse than Petras and ultimately ceded the job back to Iowa’s original starter against Nebraska and ultimately Michigan and Kentucky as well.

Now with a full offseason reported to be an “open competition,” the question becomes whether one of the two wins the job early and if so, whether the other will jump to the portal.

***UPDATE 1/12/2022***

BoilerHawk: Alex Padilla’s father, Mike, had the ear of the Des Moines Register’s Chad Leistikow and confirmed Padilla would be returning to Iowa City to compete for the starting job with plans of completing the 2022 season, along with nabbing his neuroscience degree in December, 2022.

My take is that the QB position is much less open than will be communicated through the offseason, as Padilla only really got a shot when Petras was injured but Padilla was pulled for more performance-based reasons.

***UPDATE 1/13/2022***

JPinIC: I somehow managed to leave Charlie Jones out of the initial list of looming decisions. That was a major oversight. Jones announced on Friday, January 13th that he will opt to return to Iowa for a sixth season of college football.

That’s a major boost for the Hawkeyes in multiple ways. First and foremost, it gives the winner of the QB job the top four pass-catchers in terms of yards from 2021 to continue building timing with. But it also gives Iowa the returning Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year. Jones is electric both in kick return and punt return, not just giving Iowa great field position, but avoiding bad position by taking fair catches that are there in the punt game rather than losing hidden yardage to long, rolling punts.

Big, big win for the Iowa staff to keep Jones in the fold for another season in Iowa City.

As noted, the above will be updated as announcements are made. Updates will be clearly denoted with a running tally below.

Total Scholarship Players in 2022: 81
Total Scholarships Available: 4
Total Transfers: 5
NFL Draft Departures: 3
NFL Draft Returnees: 3

  • UPDATE 1/5/2022: Riley Moss announced via Twitter on January 5th he intends to return to Iowa for an extra year. A major boost to Iowa’s secondary in 2022.
  • UPDATE 1/7/2022: Deuce Hogan announced he transferring to Kentucky.
  • UPDATE 1/8/2022: Dane Belton announced he’s leaving early for the NFL Draft.
  • UPDATE 1/12/2022: Jack Campbell will be returning despite being draft-eligible. Alex Padilla’s father confirmed he would return to Iowa, knocking down transfer rumors. Josiah Miamen was announced as a FIU transfer commit.
  • UPDATE 1/13/2022: Charlie Jones announced via Twitter that he will return to the Hawkeyes in 2022.
  • UPDATE 1/14/20122: Tyler Linderbaum announced via Twitter that he is departing for the NFL Draft.