On this final day of May we’re 94 days away from the Iowa Hawkeyes’ football season. That means it’s time to take a look at
Yahya Black, Junior
6’5”, 306 lbs.
Marshall, MN (Marshall)
2023 projection: Reserve defensive tackle
The man whose name television commentators just refuse to learn how to pronounce promised great versatility and production when he was recruited as a 3-star out of Marshall, Minnesota where he earned district Defensive Player of the Year accolades as a senior and holds the school record for sacks (17.5). Coming into the program in 2020 Black appeared in four games and netted three total tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. But it was his sophomore year where he really flashed the potential Hawkeye fans and coaches knew he had.
Black played in every game in 2021 and upped his total tackles to 18, seven of which were solo. His best performance came against Colorado State where he recorded four total tackles, two solo and two assists, and even a forced fumble. Iowa’s defensive line was (and still is) a crowded unit, but Black proved to be a strong contributor. 2022 looked bright for the sophomore.
That’s when injury struck.
After a quiet performance in the season opener, Black injured his foot and missed the next five games. He returned against Ohio State but failed to make a significant impact as a rotational piece. His best game came in a 13-10 win at Minnesota with three tackles and one pass breakup. He also recorded his lone QB sack in his college career in the Music City Bowl against Kentucky.
His number’s haven’t been eye-popping thus far, and the foot injury last year certainly didn’t help matters, but Black has been a steady contributor to the Hawkeye defense. It is just difficult to stand out when you’re sharing the line with Lukas Van Ness, John Waggoner, Logan Lee, Joe Evans, Noah Shannon, Deontae Craig, and newcomers like Aaron Graves and Caden Crawford.
I can’t see Black having a breakout performance in 2023 and becoming the set in stone starter. Look for him to be a strong supporting cast member who will make a key play now and then.