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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes entertain local reporters at annual media day

Iowa senior left tackle Brandon Scherff had a lot of company at media day Monday. The Denison native is expected to be a top-10 NFL draft pick next season and will anchor a strong Iowa OL this season.
Iowa senior left tackle Brandon Scherff had a lot of company at media day Monday. The Denison native is expected to be a top-10 NFL draft pick next season and will anchor a strong Iowa OL this season.
Troy Hyde

The Iowa football team met with several local reporters Monday in Iowa City during the Hawkeyes' annual football media day near Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa's new crop of linebackers will likely be (from left) sophomore Reggie Spearman, senior Quinton Alston and junior Travis Perry.
Troy Hyde

Head coach Kirk Ferentz held his media day press conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena and then players, assistant coaches and Ferentz met with the media on the practice field next to the U of I baseball field 30 minutes later.

The Hawkeyes are expected to challenge for the West Division title in the Big Ten Conference this season.

Here are 5 things I took away from media day:

1. The Hawkeyes will try to play 2 QBs this year.

Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis made it clear that if the coaching staff feels like backup C.J. Beathard can help the Hawkeyes during a game, he will see action to "change the pace" of the game.

Ferentz, Davis and the rest of the Hawkeye coaches made it clear that Jake Rudock is the starter, but Beathard can help this squad with his stronger arm and his more aggressive style under center.

When asked about whether it upset him that Beathard would take snaps away from him during a game, the junior said "I just want to win the game. If he can help us win the game, I am OK with it."

2. Brandon Scherff attracts a crowd.

The hype on Brandon Scherff is real. Everyone wants to know what he thinks, what he has been up to and even why he chose to return to Iowa for his senior season when the NFL was an almost certainty.

Scherff said he has taken Ike Boettger under his wing and helped transition the Cedar Falls redshirt freshman into his backup left tackle.

What is one thing Scherff helped Boettger with? "I taught him how to eat," said the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Scherff. "He isn't a tight end anymore."

3. Lots of redshirt freshmen on the depth chart.

Twelve redshirt freshman cracked the preseason Iowa depth chart.

That list includes Boettger on the offensive line along with former Webster City standout Boone Myers and Sean Welsh. Wide receivers Andre Harris, Derrick Mitchell Jr. and Derrick Willies also made the chart along with linebackers Josey Jewell, Bo Bower and John Kenny, defensive backs Malick Rucker, Kevin Ward and Solomon Warfield.

The original preseason depth chart also included quarterback Nic Shimonek but he has since transferred from the university.

The biggest hype among this group has to be Willies, who everyone expects will see the field at wide receiver and make a big impact this year. It is tough to crack the lineup in that position at that age, but he has had this expectation for quite some time now.

4. Running back depth is quality

Mark Weisman has been a workhorse for Iowa the past two seasons. He will get his touches this year but it appears that the coaching staff wants to keep him fresh early so he can make a big run late in the season. Jordan Canzeri, Damon Bullock and LaShun Daniels should all get plenty of chances to assist Weisman as Ferentz feels like all four guys are Big Ten Conference running backs.

5. Linebackers won't be as bad as everyone thinks

All the talk this season about starting 10-0 has been surrounded by a favorable schedule, two experienced and talented lines and quality skill players on offense. The one caveat to the whole prediction has been at linebacker where no one seems convinced the position is in good shape.

Sure, Iowa lost three great LBs last year to graduation and eventually the NFL.

But Quinton Alston is a now a senior and seems primed to take advantage of his one shot in the spotlight. He played in all 13 games last year and should be the leader of that group.

Travis Perry is another new starter but the former walk-on from Urbandale High School is up to 232 pounds and has been in the program for three years. He'll know where to be on the field and he is athletic enough to have a productive season.

The other expected starter is sophomore Reggie Spearman. And if you saw the field as a true freshman like Spearman did and are already on the depth chart as a sophomore, you must be pretty good.

I am not saying this new crop of linebackers will be as good as the three that were lost last year. They may never be. But I am also not ready to throw in the towel and already eliminate them from a successful year.

The experienced guys up front will make the linebackers and even the new starters in the secondary that much better. Iowa's defense is never bad and I don't expect that to change this year.

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