We’re now right at a month away from the return of college football to our television screens and just a bit longer until the return of Hawkeye football inside Kinnick Stadium. With the countdown getting lower and lower by the day, we’ve officially entered watch list season around the country.
For Iowa, that means a whole lot of attention for several players on the defensive side of the ball and on special teams. The list is headlined by a trio of Hawkeye superstars, including a pair on the defense who have also been named preseason All-Americans by the Sporting News in linebacker Jack Campbell and cornerback Riley Moss.
That same duo was named to the preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award, given annually to the nation’s top player on defense.
Given he’s up for the nation’s top defender, it should come as little surprise then that Moss is also on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s top defensive back. Moss was a semifinalist a season ago. Despite the immense success Phil Parker has had in developing defensive backs (nearly half of all Tatum-Woodson Award winners for Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year have been Hawkeyes under Parker, including Moss a season ago), just one Hawkeye has ever won the Thorpe Award. That honor came for Desmond King back in 2015.
Moss will look to change that in 2022.
It should also come as little surprise that Campbell, after being named to the Nagurski watch list, was also named to the Butkus Award watch list for the nation’s top linebacker.
What is surprising, however, is that Campbell wasn’t alone on the list in terms of Hawkeyes. Not even close. In fact, ALL THREE of Iowa’s projected starters at linebacker made the list. No other school in the country boasts three potential top linebackers in the nation.
Beyond the defense, Iowa had a pair of other honorees making watch lists this week. Neither are a major surprise and both come at positions of historical strength for Iowa.
It wouldn’t be Iowa football without top-notch special teams play and that starts with the punter. After being snubbed a season ago, Tory Taylor makes the watch list for the Ray Guy Award given to the nation’s top punter this season. Despite the long tradition of success and perhaps more emphasis on the position than any other program, Iowa has never had a punter win the award.
A position where the Hawkeyes have had some past success in earning awards is tight end. Sam LaPorta looks to continue building on that tradition again this season. He was named to the John Mackey Award watch list for the nation’s top tight.
The Hawkeyes have had a pair of winners in the past. TJ Hockenson won the honors in 2018 while Dallas Clark took home the award in 2002.
Aside from the watch lists, the Big Ten conference also announced some preseason honors as a part of Big Ten Media Days this week. A media panel selected a 10-person group including five honorees from each the East and the West.
Iowa’s Jack Campbell was chosen as one of only two defensive players to be honored. He was joined by Wisconsin linebacker Nick Herbig. Herbig was one of a pair of Badgers to be honored, joining running back Braelon Allen. The two members from Wisconsin was the second most of any team behind just Ohio State, which had three players chosen.
Here’s a look at the full preseason honoree list from Big Ten Media Days.
Blake Corum, RB, MICH
Jayden Reed, WR, MSU
TreVeyon Henderson, RB, OSU
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, OSU
C.J. STROUD, QB, OSU (unanimous)
Jack Campbell, LB, IOWA
Peter Skoronski, OT, NU
Aidan O’Connell, QB, PUR
Braelon Allen, RB, WIS
Nick Herbig, OLB, WIS
The college football season is set to kick off on Saturday, August 27th with several games in “week 0.” The Hawkeyes open the season in week one as they play host to South Dakota State on Saturday, September 3rd.