The Iowa Hawkeyes completed a roller coaster of a season on Saturday in much the way Iowa fans thought they would... if you had asked them about a month earlier. After starting the year with expectations for a solid year, things seemed to hit rock bottom in October when the Hawkeyes sat at 3-4 overall and in last place in the West. Fast forward a month and Iowa controlled its own destiny entering the season finale against Nebraska only to have things quickly come crashing down.
It was a fitting end to a disaster of a season and perhaps the only outcome which could truly spur changes that most Hawkeye fans view are needed this offseason. Whether those changes come to fruition in terms of coaching staff changes remains to be seen. But one thing is becoming abundantly clear: the Iowa coaching staff as it stands is looking to make changes to the personnel via the transfer portal.
That may be out of necessity for several reasons. First and foremost, it was clear to just about everyone the talent at certain positions was simply lacking in 2022. Those positions were almost exclusively on the offensive side of the ball and while they weren’t the sole reason, they contributed to Iowa’s 130th ranked offense.
Beyond the already lacking talent in some spots, those very same spots may well see attrition. A season ago, the average college football program saw 11 players leave via the transfer portal. While the Hawkeyes were below that mark last season, there is smoke that Iowa may see an uptick in transfers out of the program this year.
Hence, Iowa needs to add players and they need to do it quickly. The Hawkeyes are poised to sign a top-25 recruiting class in a few weeks. It’s a class that is growing into not only the best in some time, but one of the biggest in a decade. But those players will only be freshmen next year. Iowa needs help now. So it’s officially transfer portal season. Or more accurately, it is almost transfer portal season. The portal opens on December 5th, but several players have already announced intentions to enter their names once they are able.
With that in mind, we’re tracking the players who have announced intentions to transfer and who have some sort of reason for Iowa fans to be aware of them. Given Kirk Ferentz’s history, most of these players have some sort of prior relationship with the program. Typically, that means Iowa recruited them out of high school, but it could also mean there is some connection to the high school, family or other involvement at some point in the past.
This list will continue to be updated as new players enter the portal or new information about a potential transfer becomes available.
Cade McNamara, QB Michigan
McNamara is a name that should be very familiar to Hawkeye fans. While Iowa didn’t recruit the Reno, Nevada native out of high school, the Hawkeyes did face off with a McNamara-led Michigan offense in the Big Ten Championship in 2021. That didn’t end well for Iowa as McNamara finished the day completing 16 of his 24 passes (67%) for 169 yards and a TD to go with one interception. The Wolverines, of course, racked up 42 points against the Hawkeyes en route to a Big Ten Championship.
Michigan QB Cade McNamara has entered the portal as a grad transfer, @TheAthletic has learned.— Max Olson (@max_olson) November 28, 2022
Of course, McNamara was supplanted as starter in Ann Arbor this season by JJ McCarthy, but he leaves Michigan with a career completion percentage over 63% with a 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His career passer rating was 139.4 with an average of 7.5 yards per attempt.
While McNamara is certainly not a true dual threat quarterback, his mobility is a clear step up from what Iowa had with Spencer Petras. Most importantly, he completed more than 53% of his passes when pressured with an average of 7.2 yards per attempt. Compare that with just over 37% for Petras with only 5.1 yards per attempt.
McNamara would be a big time pick up for the Hawkeyes. He is currently being followed by the Iowa staff on social media and has family members who are also following official Hawkeye accounts.
McNamara has reportedly committed to the Hawkeyes according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel.
Sources: Former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara has committed to transfer to Iowa. An announcement is expected soon.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 2, 2022
Thamel’s reporting has been confirmed by Iowa best writer Tom Kakert of HawkeyeReport.com. Per Kakert, McNamara actually committed on Tuesday evening via a phone call with head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Arlen Harris Jr., RB Stanford
Arlen Harris Jr. is a bit of a different story than McNamara in that he’s not competed against the Hawkeyes, but he has a much longer history with the program. Originally a class of 2022 prospect, Harris is a native of St. Peter’s, Missouri and was recruited heavily by the Hawkeyes. He took roughly a half-dozen visits to Iowa City early on in the process and had the Hawkeyes in his top-6, but ultimately chose Stanford and made his announcement all the way back in 2020. That left Iowa to reset in the class, where they ultimately took Florida native Jazziun Patterson and Ohio native and current starter Kaleb Johnson.
Harris announced midway through his freshman year at Stanford that he intended to transfer and the Iowa staff has been following him on social media, again, since then. While the Hawkeyes have a relatively crowded depth chart at RB at the moment, Leshon and Gavin Williams are both set to be juniors with a sophomore-to-be ahead of them on the depth chart and could well explore options themselves. That’s why the staff has pivoted to looking for two RBs in the class of 2023 ever since 4-star Florida RB Kendrick Raphael decommitted. Iowa currently has just Florida RB Kamari Moulton set to sign in December so adding Harris in the same class would fill that need. Harris took a redshirt this season and would thus have four years of eligibility remaining.
UPDATE: Harris announced on Thursday that he will be visiting Iowa City on Saturday, December 3rd. He is also reportedly visiting Iowa State this weekend.
Stephan Bracey Jr., WR Wisconsin
It’s no secret the Hawkeyes need some serious reinforcements at wide receiver. While Iowa entered fall camp feeling fine about the departures of Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy, it became apparent very quickly this year that the Hawkeyes need more depth given the myriad injuries at the position during 2022 and the possibility of departures this offseason.
It’s no surprise then that the Iowa staff is looking for that depth in the transfer portal. When Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chryst, the Badgers saw a slew of players either announce intentions to transfer or be linked to rumblings at other schools (see: Allen, Braelon). We’ve also seen roughly half of Wisconsin’s recruiting class of 2023 decommit already. Such is life with a coaching change. The Hawkeyes have been quick to follow those players and prospects on social media at a few key positions, notably wide receiver.
One such follow has been Stephan Bracey. He and Markus Allen announced intentions to transfer soon after Chryst’s firing and Iowa followed right away. Allen has since committed to Minnesota, but Bracey remains available and a potential fit for a few reasons. For starters, the Hawkeyes recruited Bracey as a prep out of Grand Rapids, Michigan back in the class of 2019. While they didn’t offer the 3-star prospect, they clearly know him and he not only knows the Hawkeyes but has shown a willingness to play in a run-first offense. That’s a plus at WR.
At Wisconsin, Bracey hasn’t set the world on fire with just a lone reception in four years on campus. It went for 11 yards and came back in 2020. He’s also listed at 5’10”, putting him more in the mold of an Arland Bruce than the big physical outside receiver the staff has been clearly searching for in the class of 2023.
But, Bracey did serve as kick returner in Madison in 2020 and 2021 averaging nearly 26 yards per return. That was thanks in part to a career-long 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in 2021. So Bracey may be able to serve as a depth option at WR while also providing an option on special teams where we’ve seen Arland Bruce struggle a bit and where it likely makes little sense to keep Kaleb Johnson as his role in the offense grows. Bracey is a redshirt junior, meaning he has one year of eligibility remaining, plus a COVID year so he could potentially play two seasons at his next stop.
UPDATE: Bracy has committed to Central Michigan.
Isaac TeSlaa, WR Hillsdale College
One receiver which may be more in the mold of what the Iowa staff has been yearning for on the outside is Hillsdale sophomore Isaac TeSlaa. A native of Hudsonville, Michigan, Teslaa was this year’s Great Midwest Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year after amassing 1,325 yards and 13 TDs on 68 catches (19.5 yards per catch).
TeSlaa has a big frame at 6’4” and 210 pounds per his Hillsdale bio and boasts a 41” vertical leap. On film, he uses that frame and leaping ability to show really dynamic ability to go up and get contested balls. It’s hard to know just how fast he is given Hillsdale is a D2 program, but it’s worth noting that Iowa has dipped its toes into those waters before when they took a transfer from Zach VanValkenburg back in 2019. Similar to Teslaa, VanValkenburg was GMAC Defensive Lineman of the year in his final season at Hillsdale and developed into an All-Big Ten player before graduating from Iowa.
With COVID pushing the 2020 season into spring 2021, TeSlaa only played in three games as a true freshman meaning he was able to take a redshirt. After playing the last two seasons at Hillsdale, he would have two full seasons of eligibility remaining, plus a COVID year. He departs Hillsdale with 2,116 total receiving yards and 20 TDs while averaging 17.9 yards per catch.
Seth Anderson, WR Charleston Southern
Another smaller school follow for the Iowa staff has been Charleston Southern WR Seth Anderson. Anderson is, like Bracey, on the smaller side listed at 6’ and under 180 pounds. As a redshirt freshman at CSU, Anderson tallied 628 yards and 7 TDs on 42 catches for a 14.9 yard per catch average. Those are very solid numbers for a first year player and earned Anderson 2nd Team All-Conference honors as well as Big South Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Seth Anderson 6’0 178— Seth Anderson (@Sethhh1k) November 24, 2022
3 Years of Eligibility left
2x Big South Freshman of The Week.
Big South Offensive Player of The Year.
Jerry Rice Freshman of the Year Finalist.
Second Team all Conference. pic.twitter.com/srKJybni3v
Notably, Anderson is a graduate of North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia. If that rings a bell, it’s because it’s the same school as former Hawkeye Tyler Goodson. As such, the staff has a relationship with Anderson’s high school coach and perhaps some pull with the family.
After taking his redshirt year in 2021, Anderson 3 years of eligibility remaining.
Grant Dubose, WR Charlotte
A smaller school receiver the staff is on which is more in line with that bigger frame is Charlotte WR Grant Dubose. A Montgomery, Alabama native, Dubose doesn’t have any prior ties to the University of Iowa and he had few options out of high school. With no high major scholarship offers, Dubose went to Miles College, a D2 school in Alabama, in 2019. He played one season there before the 2020 season was lost to COVID and ultimately transferred to Charlotte.
He really came into his own at Charlotte, though, earning Honorable Mention All-Conference USA in his first year with the program after hauling in 62 catches for 892 yards (14.4 YPC) and 6 TDs. As a junior in 2022, Dubose caught 64 passes for 792 yards and 9 TDs (12.4 YPC).
The reaper in my ear was telling me to do the most pic.twitter.com/SOEYriG56F— G. DuBose (@_gdubose) December 30, 2021
Notably, Dubose has been a teammate at Charlotte with fellow Alabama native and former Hawkeyes Shad Byrd. Byrd, who was also originally in the class of 2019, was Charlotte’s starting RB and leading rusher in 2022.
Corey Crooms, WR Western Michigan
Western Michigan Corey Crooms entered the portal on Tuesday afternoon and was quickly followed by the Iowa coaching staff on social media. Originally a member of the class of 2019, Iowa did not get involved with his recruitment out of Hillcrest High School Country Club Hills, Illinois (a southwest suburb).
Bronco Nation Thank you…. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Fcp99DlHEl— Corey Crooms❔ (@CroomsCorey) November 29, 2022
Crooms is a smaller frame player at 5’11” and 185 pounds, but he has more speed at that size than anyone currently on Iowa’s roster save for Keagan Johnson. He finished this season with 814 yards and 5 TDs on 57 catches (14.3 yards per catch) and was used all over the place, but especially as a downfield threat.
For his career, Crooms has amassed 1,766 yards and 12 TDs with a 15.4 yard per catch average in four seasons at Western Michigan. Because he has played in four seasons already, he only has his COVID year available at his new home.
Corey Davis ➡️ D’Wayne Eskridge ➡️ Skyy Moore ➡️ Corey Crooms?— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) July 31, 2022
After 44 catches, 768 yards, and 6 TD last year, Crooms looks ready to continue WMU’s receiver dynasty. pic.twitter.com/SS9QmLjLCE
Trasehon Holden, WR Alabama
Alabama wide receiver Traeshon Holden is a new follow for the coaching staff, just under 24 hours after he announced his intentions to transfer. Originally a member of the recruiting class of 2020, Holden was a 4-star prospect from Harbor City, California. He had a slew of offers coming out of high school, but the Hawkeyes were not involved the first time around.
To the Alabama Family, I would like to thank coach Saban and the entire Alabama coaching staff for everything that you have done for me while I was a student-athlete here. Having said that, I would to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal effective immediately.— Traeshon Holden (@Traeski11) November 30, 2022
Listed at 6’3” and 215 pounds, Holden has the ideal size the Hawkeyes seem to be looking for on the outside. He was fourth in receiving yards in 2022 for the Crimson Tide, hauling in 25 catches for 331 yards (13.2 YPC) and six TDs (second on the team). As a redshirt freshman, Holden had 21 catches for 239 yards (11.4 YPC) and one TD in 2021.
As a redshirt sophomore this season, Holden would have two years of regular eligibility remaining, as well as a COVID year at his new school.
Alex Washington, CB Harvard
While Iowa’s defense is clearly in much better shape than the offense, we saw on Black Friday just how quickly a position of strength can become a glaring weakness without enough depth. That’s the likely cause for Phil Parker’s group looking to the portal for some help in a few places.
First among those is at corner, where the staff has started following a pair of Ivy League players. That includes two-time All-Ivy League CB Alex Washington. Washington is listed at 6’2” and 190 pounds, giving him great length at corner.
I’ve decided to enter my name into the transfer portal as a Grad Transfer eligible to enroll in the spring of 2023 with a year of eligibility left.— Alex Washington (@Alex_w04) November 25, 2022
2x All-Ivy Corner
2022 Preseason 2nd team All American
2022 Academic All district team pic.twitter.com/fDTigabg6h
As a redshirt junior at Harvard, Washington totaled 34 tackles with four passes broken up and a pair of interceptions. That came after tallying 17 tackles, four interceptions and a pair of passes broken up as a sophomore.
The Hoover, Alabama native is a grad transfer with one year of eligibility remaining plus a COVID year.
Kahlil Dawsey, CB Harvard
Washington played alongside another grad transfer corner in Kahlil Dawsey, who the Iowa staff is also now following. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Dawsey finished the 2022 season with 26 tackles and seven passes defended. That came after a 2021 season where Dawsey had a pair of interceptions, including one returned 77 yards for a TD, and four passes broken up. Dawsey also blocked two punts as a freshman in 2019.
Like Washington, Dawsey will have one year of traditional eligibility remaining, plus a COVID year.
Braden Fiske, DT Western Michigan
The Hawkeyes have found a strategy they like on the defensive line, which involves lots of rotation to keep guys fresh. That means they need depth to throw at opposing offensive lines. Defensive tackle is one place they could use some more of that depth to go along with the likes of Logan Lee, Yahya Black and Aaron Graves. Iowa used Lukas Van Ness as a DT at times in 2022, but he is more of a hybrid DT/DE.
Western Michigan DT Braden Fiske is not at all a hybrid, but much more of a traditional big body in the middle of a line. Listed at 6’5” and 300 pounds, the Michigan City, Indiana native is a huge hole plugger who has also proven himself a force in the passing game. Fiske finished 2022 with 58 total tackles, 12 TFLs and 6 sacks.
As a grad transfer with one year of eligibility remaining, Fiske would be a nice plug and play addition in the middle of the defensive line to go with the talent already on the roster, along with Iowa Western transfer Anterio Thompson, to allow younger players to develop before being relied upon regularly.
Ernest Hausmann, LB Nebraska
Ernest Hausmann, originally a member of the 2022 recruiting class, was a high 3-star linebacker prospect from Columbus, Nebraska. He made an impact as a true freshman for the Huskers, finishing sixth on the team in total tackles with 54 on the season. He also added one sack this year.
Hausmann started the year on the two deeps and ultimately became a starter in the middle of Nebraska’s defense once starting MLB Nick Heinrich went down with a torn ACL against Purdue. Now he’s entering the transfer portal and the Hawkeyes have been quick to follow.
That’s likely due to the prior relationship the staff has with Hausmann as they recruited and offered him as a prep. That didn’t go terribly far as Hausmann committed to the Huskers in March of his junior year, but as we’ve seen thus far a relationship can go a long way in the portal.
As noted, this story will continue to be updated as new players enter the portal and become of interest to the Hawkeyes or as players commit elsewhere.
*Updated 8:35 am CT on 11/30 to add Corey Crooms, WR Western Michigan.
*Updated 10:45 am CT on 12/1 to note Arlen Harris’ planned visit to Iowa City.
*Updated 3:00 pm CT on 12/1 to add Traeshon Holden, WR Alabama.
*Updated 6:45 pm CT on 12/1 to reflect Michigan QB Cade McNamara’s reported commitment to the Hawkeyes.
*Updated 10:45 am CT on 12/2 to add Ernest Hausmann, LB Nebraska.