Beathard And Jewell To Headline On-Field Leaders For Iowa in 2016

We end our week-long preview of Iowa Hawkeye Spring Football practice with a look at the leadership of the team heading into the 2016 season.

The Hawkeyes will need to have a steady backbone of leaders if they are going to duplicate their success last year that resulted in an unbeaten regular season, an appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game, and the Rose Bowl.

In terms of on-field and locker room leadership on the roster, two stars have staked their claim to those roles so far this spring, according to Head Coach Kirk Ferentz: Quarterback CJ Beathard and linebacker Josey Jewell.

“CJ was a team captain last year all season long, and then on the permanent captain ballot,” said Ferentz. “And Josey Jewell the same thing. I think, you guys know better than I, I think it’s the first time we’ve had a sophomore be named as a permanent team captain in my 17 years. So it’s a pretty good starting point.”

For the leadership of the group, those two are not alone in helping guide the program.

“We’ve got a lot of older guys that I think are doing a good job in that regard,” according to Ferentz. “But like I said, those guys move up, and there is another void to be filled. So those are the things that you’re looking at during the course of the spring just to see not only what guys are doing on the field, but what they’re doing in terms of just handling the situations that they’re confronted with.”

Although the familiarity of some of the top players in the program is nice, their on-field performance will still need to improve for Iowa to continue to gain traction at the national level.

“The older guys, guys like CJ and Josey, if they play the way they played last year, it’s not going to be good enough,” Ferentz explained. “We need them to play better, and that’s true of all the guys that have played.”

The same is true for the players who are new to the program or who haven’t seen the field in games yet.

“We’ve got to have younger guys supporting those guys and moving along because you just never know when somebody’s going to get called into action,” according to Ferentz. “There are a lot of moving parts, but it’s a new challenge every year, for sure. But we’ve got new opportunities as well.”

We will continue to cover Iowa Hawkeye football throughout the spring and into the fall with training camp commencing in August. You can catch all of the action this fall on 104.9 FM KBOE, and you can view Iowa stories online at radiokmzn.com.

Iowa Football Looking To Fill Void Of 21 Seniors

Today, we continue our look at the Iowa Hawkeye Football team at the beginning of spring practice.

In Power Five NCAA Football, one constant is rapid turnover in on-field personnel. This is due largely to graduation, but leaving early for the NFL Draft, transfers, and injuries all affect a team’s depth chart.

Iowa is no exception, and Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes will be looking to replace over 20 seniors on the field this coming fall.

“We lost 21 seniors,” said Ferentz. “Not all were starters, but what they did collectively, that’s a big void to fill right there. So that’s our first challenge. Forget about possessions, but you move 21 guys that did things on a daily basis really well, really modelled great behavior for our entire football team.”

Iowa will bring back plenty of difference makers from their 12-2 team a year ago, but there will be voids to fill.

“So can we fill that void?” asked Ferentz. “And then if other guys rising up to fill that void, what about the void that’s left in the wake of that? So a lot of moving parts on the football team. That’s why I said it’s a new year, new team for sure.”

To help fill a bigger void on the offense, there will be one player switching sides of the ball.

“One position move, Brady Ross is going to move over to the fullback position,” Ferentz said. “Brady was a walk-on linebacker in the fall, freshman linebacker from Humboldt High School and really did a nice job. In fact, in December we toyed with him a little bit on offense and he’ll lineup at the fullback position.”

Of course, with or without new personnel, spring football is huge for a program, and Iowa is no different.

“First and foremost it’s a chance to install our system offensively, defensively, and special teams-wise,” according to Ferentz. “See how the guys do learning skill and technique development is a critical part and something that’s ongoing. So it’s a good opportunity for us to work there. You’re always working on your teamwork, and then the fourth thing is trying to raise the overall performance of our football team.”

We will continue our coverage of Iowa Hawkeye Spring Football practice tomorrow as we look at the leadership of the squad. You can check out more information on our website at radiokmzn.com and like us on Facebook at “Mahaska Zone Network.”



Iowa Still Battling Injury Bug Prior To Spring Practice

We continue our coverage of Iowa Hawkeye Spring Football with the health of the boys in the black and gold.

As every knows, football is an extremely physical sport, and injuries are common place. When spring football rolls around, sometimes it makes sense for players coming off big injuries to continue to rest and recover. This is the case for a quintet of Hawkeyes this spring, according to Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.

“Guys that are going to be kept out of spring ball, Ben Niemann, Derrick Mitchell, and Greg Mabin, three guys that were in the two-deep last year will not be able to really practice this spring, so they’re going to have to stay in tuned mentally and try to grow that way,” said Ferentz. “That’s in addition to a couple guys I mentioned earlier, James Daniels and Josh Jackson. Those guys will be either out or limited in what they do.”

Ben Niemann started all 14 Iowa games at outside linebacker as a true sophomore and was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten linebacker. He suffered a head injury in Iowa’s 12th game last year, but played in the Big Ten Championship and the Rose Bowl.

Derrick Mitchell enters the spring as the third running back behind senior Leshun Daniels and junior Akrum Wadley.

Greg Mabin started all 14 games at left cornerback last year opposite All-American Desmond King, and is slated for that role again for his senior campaign.

James Daniels and Josh Jackson are both true sophomores. Daniels is slated to be the starting center at this point for the Hawks next fall, while Jackson is lined up to be Desmond King’s backup at cornerback.

Coach Ferentz did not specify the reasons why the five players are being held out of contact drills this spring.

“It’s pretty much stuff that’s lingered,” Ferentz explained. “Most cases you try to hold off on surgery if at all possible. In the three cases I cited, it was stuff that at some point we decided had to be addressed. The good thing is they’ll be back in June full speed, but they’re going to miss this period unfortunately.”

The Hawkeyes were banged up as a collective unit much of their historic 2015 season, and that trend seems to have continued so far in the offseason.

“It’s been a little bit of an unusual off-season,” said Ferentz. “We’ve had a little more activity on that front than normal. Even a couple cases of mono just to top it off. It’s just been one for the books. But we’ll work through that. The teams did a good job working through injuries last fall and we’ll try to do the same this spring.”

Coach Ferentz and his Hawkeyes have to feel good with so many returning difference makers, but we’ll have to wait until fall’s training camp before we see the projected two-deep on the field as a unit.

We will continue our coverage of Iowa Spring Football tomorrow as we will take a look at what will be different on the field for the Hawkeyes in 2016. Also check out our Facebook page, “Mahaska Zone Network” to stay locked in with all things Iowa Football.


Iowa Feature: The Drew Ott Saga

We continue our Iowa Hawkeye Spring Practice coverage with one of the more glaring storylines in the offseason in the entire country.

Defensive lineman Drew Ott has had pro football scouts clamoring for the Nebraska native’s strength and football instincts. But his senior season at Iowa was cut short by a torn ACL in Iowa’s sixth game of the year against Illinois.

Ott has since appealed for an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA for a medical hardship. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz says there are encouraging precedents in recent history.

“We’ve had some encouraging news from some other cases, a basketball player from Temple had a case similar to Drew’s,” Ferentz explained. “Just learned actually yesterday about Case Keenum who is playing for the Rams right now, when he was at Houston he actually got a sixth year, redshirted one year, played three and then was injured in his fifth year and got a sixth year.”

The rules for the NCAA state that in order to receive an extra year of eligibility due to injury, the player in question cannot have appeared in 30{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} of the team’s games and cannot have played past the midway point of the season.

Ott played in six games, but participated in four games with a dislocated elbow that drastically decreased his time on the field.

While it remains to be seen what the NCAA will decide in Ott’s case, Ferentz knows that he’ll be ready either to rejoin Iowa’s camp or get ready for the NFL Draft.

“I think he’ll be ready in camp, be ready this summer,” says Ferentz. “He’s working at it really hard. For him the toughest part is not knowing. It’s like anything in life, if you don’t know where you’re going and what the future is, that’s always a tough thing to deal with.”

Ferentz also commented on how the injury and his unknown collegiate status has affected Ott’s draft stock.

“So the question they have, do we use a draft pick?” Ferentz explained. “Do we try to get him as a free agent, that type of thing? I think he’s a great investment. A heck of a football player and heck of a leader. If we get him back, that would add current leadership as well as a really good football player. But it could go either way, and we’re going to wish him well no matter what happens here.”

Ferentz and Ott both are hoping to hear the NCAA’s ruling soon for multiple reasons. The Iowa coach knows that time is running out for Ott to control his decision with the NFL Draft approaching.

“The clock is kind of ticking a little bit too because the NFL people are at some point going to make a move too,” Ferentz stated. “I would imagine they’d want to bring him in for physicals and those types of things. He got checked at the combine. He got an exemption for that. So that gave him a baseline. But if they’re going to ask a guy to join their team, they’re going to want to know where he is physically. We’re still probably a couple weeks away, but clock is running right now.”

Ott has said if the NCAA doesn’t give their ruling in the next two weeks, he will put his focus on the NFL Draft, which begins in Chicago on April 28.

We will have continuing coverage of the Drew Ott Saga, as well as Iowa Football Spring Practice right here on the Mahaska Zone Network throughout the next few weeks. You can also check out information on our website at radiokmzn.com and on our Facebook page “Mahaska Zone Network.”




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