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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Donnal’

A look at the offensive line

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Projected starters – LT Riley Reiff (6-6, 300, so.); LG Julian Vandervelde (6-3, 300, sr.); RG Adam Gettis (6-4, 280, jr.); RT Markus Zusevics (6-5, 295, jr.); C Josh Koeppel (6-2, 273, sr.) or James Ferentz (6-2, 275, so.)

Top reserves – Cody Hundertmark (6-4, 285, jr.), Woody Orne (6-5, 295, jr.), Brett Van Sloten (6-7, 290, fr.), Matt Tobin (6-6, 285, so.), Kyle Haganman (6-5, 285, sr.)

Futures – Nolan MacMillan (6-6, 288, fr.), Connor Bofelli (6-5, 285, fr.), Andrew Donnal (6-7, 285, fr.), Brandon Scherff (6-5, 310, fr.), Casey McMillan (6-4, 305, so.), Drew Clark (6-4, 288, fr.)

This is the biggest question mark area on the entire Iowa team and it undoubtedly will be a work in progress as the Hawkeyes prepare for the start of Big Ten play. The major building block is Reiff, who started 11 games at three different positions while earning third-team freshman All-American honors last season. He figures to be the starting left tackle for the next three years. Vandervelde brings the most experience with 24 career starts. After that come the question marks.

Gettis and Zusevics, two juniors from the Chicago area, have slowly worked their way up the depth chart through the years but both have limited playing experience. Gettis started one game last season. Zusevics, a former high school volleyball star, never has started. Neither have either of the two players battling for the starting center job. Koeppel has been in the program longer but don’t be surprised if the coach’s son beats him out for the job.

Hundertmark, who moved from defense to offense at the end of last season, was described by Kirk Ferentz last spring as the only other offensive lineman who looked ready to play at that point although he saw very limited action in the Kids Day scrimmage last week. Orne started seven games as a freshman at South Dakota State in 2008, but still seems to be adjusting to a higher level of competition. Everyone else except Haganman is just beginning to figure out what they’re doing.

A player to watch might be Nolan MacMillan, a Canadian who is nearly 20 years old but still has four years of eligibility remaining.

Depth for fall may be better than ever

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Iowa may or may not have one of its best football teams ever next fall.

One thing that does seem certain: It will be one of the deepest teams it has had.

The Hawkeyes will be pretty well insulated against injuries at almost every position except pos-sibly the offensive line and safety. Everywhere else, there are pretty good players waiting in the wings in case the starter goes down.

A look at the Hawkeyes by position following spring drills:

Quarterback: Ricky Stanzi is going into his third season as the starter and should be less turn-over-prone. That was a major point of emphasis in the spring. James Vandenberg showed last sea-son that he can be a capable backup and you get the feeling southpaw John Wienke gained ground on Vandenberg in the spring. The coaches said he made a major step up and you could see it in the spring scrimmage. Wienke looked crisper and more accurate than Vandenberg that day.

Running back: If Jewel Hampton, Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher all are healthy, this is going to be very interesting. Robinson may have a slight edge in some of the little things like pick-ing up the blitz, but the other two probably are more elusive and have a bigger upside. It’s almost guaranteed that one of them will get hurt anyway. If more than one gets hurt, I still think there is a chance freshman Marcus Coker could be a factor right away.

Fullback: Senior Brett Morse is solid and there’s not a ton of drop-off to junior Wade Leppert. This isn’t an every-down position anyway.

Wide receiver: Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos have a chance to be the Hawk-eyes’ best receiver tandem since … well, maybe ever. Colin Sandeman and Paul Chaney are pretty good, too. If Keenan Davis improves as much as the coaches hope and Jordan Cotton continues to progress and 6-foot-6 Don Nordmann is as good as he looked in the spring scrimmage, they’re loaded.

Tight end: Don’t be surprised if Allen Reisner duplicates the statistical numbers Tony Moeaki provided last year although he’s probably not going to be as good a blocker. Brad Herman and Jonathan Gimm apparently made strides as the backups this spring but they still might have trou-ble holding off high school All-American C.J. Fiedorowicz, who should be game-ready when he arrives.

Offensive line: There is good depth at center, where James Ferentz and Josh Koeppel are bat-tling for the starting job, but this is one place the depth is a bit thin. There are a lot of big bodies behind Riley Reiff, Julian Vandervelde, Markus Zusevics and Adam Gettis but apparently no one who is ready to play with any sort of consistency. Coach Kirk Ferentz said converted defensive lineman Cody Hundertmark is the closest to being ready. If no one steps forward in the fall, there may be an opportunity for Ohio high school star Andrew Donnal to see playing time as a true freshman.

Defensive line: The Hawkeyes may be deeper than ever here. All four starters – Adrian Clay-born, Karl Klug, Christian Ballard and Broderick Binns – return intact with Clayborn and appar-ently Klug primed for starring roles. And some of us have felt for some time that Ballard ranks among the most underrated players on this team. Backup tackle Mike Daniels is good enough to start for half the teams in the Big Ten and young ends LeBron Daniel and Dominic Alvis have emerged as potential stars of the future. Pencil in Daniels and Daniel as certain starters for 2011.

Linebacker
: This is another area where the competition has been fierce. Jeremiha Hunter is a third-year starter and Jeff Tarpinian and Tyler Nielsen have emerged as the starters at the other two spots, but Bruce Davis and Troy Johnson are still pushing. Even long-time walk-on Ross Peter-sen looked good in the spring scrimmage. You’ll still see some true freshman play here in the fall, though, as the Hawkeyes brace for the future. Hunter, Tarpinian, Johnson and Petersen are seniors and Davis and Nielsen are juniors.

Cornerback: Shaun Prater is solidly entrenched on one side and sophomore Micah Hyde may be a future star on the other side. Jordan Bernstine, projected to start ahead of Prater last fall before breaking his ankle, may have a hard time finding playing time but he, Greg Castillo and William Lowe provide quality depth.

Safety: Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood – known to some of us as Sashwood – are one of the best tandems in the country but it’s hard to even guess at who the backups are at this point. Walk-ons Kyle Steinbrecher and Tom Donatell ran with the No. 1 unit in the spring scrimmage, apparently moving ahead of two scholarship players, Jack Swanson and Nick Nielsen, in the final week of drills. All those players have good size and Nielsen had two interceptions last Saturday. The depth isn’t necessarily bad, just unproven.

Kicker: Daniel Murray is the returning starter, but Ferentz has made it clear he wasn’t com-pletely satisfied with the job he did. Trent Mossbrucker, who redshirted last season after being the kicker for much of 2008, has at least an shot at winning the job.

Punter: Another place where the depth isn’t great behind four-year regular Ryan Donahue. But how often does your punter get hurt anyway?

Recruiting reflections

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Random thoughts in the wake of Wednesday’s national signing day:

— Once upon a time, when a high school football player made a verbal commitment to sign with a school, you could take it to the bank. The recruiting was over. The kid was going to that school.

Not any more.

“Decommits” — players who change their mind after committing to a school — are now very common and seemingly increasing with each passing year.

Iowa only had one player decommit this year — Matt Hoch of Harlan, Iowa, changed his mind in December and decided to join his brother at Missouri — but the Hawkeyes picked up three players who once were pledged to other schools: C.J. Fiedorowicz (Illinois), Kevonte Martin-Manley (Bowling Green) and Tanner Miller (Northern Iowa).

— After signing Marcus Coker and D’Andre Johnson on Wednesday, Iowa now has eight running backs on scholarship and all but one of them will be either a freshman or a sophomore next season. And the one who will be a senior (Paki O’Meara) may be the least of the eight.

Even if Brad Rogers and Jeff Brinson end up at some other position (or some other school), it’s still hard to figure out how the Hawkeyes can find enough playing time for Adam Robinson, Brandon Wegher and Jewell Hampton, especially if Coker is the second coming of Shonn Greene, as some believe.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t concerned.

“You know, I hope it becomes a problem,” he said. “I’m trying to think of the last time it was … I can’t remember us having too many good players at any one position. I certainly can’t remember us having too many running backs. My memory is a little bit recent right now. I was just happy this past year to have two in one game.”

— Obviously, big things are expected of Fiedorowicz, Coker, A.J. Derby and Andrew Donnal, the four-star players in Iowa’s recruiting class.

But some of us won’t be shocked if Solon linebacker James Morris ends up being the best player out of this class. And you have to believe there are some other great “sleeper” prospects in this bunch. Carl Davis is a 300-pound defensive tackle who regularly dunks in his high school basket-ball games in Detroit. I can’t wait to see what that guy looks like.

— From my experience, recruits who also have played sports such as basketball and tennis generally have very good footwork that translates well to the football field.

If that’s the case, this is a really good group. I counted 14 players among the 21 in Iowa’s class who play or have played for their high school basketball teams. Fiedorowicz already is his school’s career scoring leader. Brandon Scherff and Austin Vier are among the top rebounders in the state of Iowa right now. B.J. Lowery and Martin-Manley are going to be four-year lettermen at the var-sity level. Tanner Miller and Jim Poggi are in their third varsity season. Derby, who is sitting out this basketball season, helped Iowa City win a Class 4A state title as a sophomore.

Scherff, who is listed at 310 pounds, also lettered in tennis as a freshman in high school.

Maybe one more recruit?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Upon further review, maybe the Hawkeyes aren’t quite finished recruiting.

It looks as though they could get one more recruit this weekend when Lorain (Ohio) Clearview star Anthony Hitchens makes his official visit to the Iowa campus. Hitchens was regarded as a fall-back recruit – someone the Hawkeyes only would take if other recruiting pitches fell through — but they made him an offer earlier this week and in comments he made to Rivals.com, Hitchens sounded as though he was thinking he would give his commitment before leaving Iowa City.

Hitchens made an unofficial visit to Iowa to watch the Hawkeyes’ game with Indiana in October and felt then that this is where he’d like to go. He had offers on the table from Kansas, Indiana and other schools, but was holding off on a commitment, waiting to hear from Iowa.

While most of those other schools see the 6-foot-1, 195-pound speedster as a running back, the Hawkeyes probably will play him at safety. He rushed for 1,428 yards and 21 touchdowns last fall, but also made 76 tackles and had two interceptions on the defensive side. He’s only rated a two-star recruit and he’s not ranked among the top 75 players in Ohio, but he’s the kind of recruit the Hawk-eyes love to develop.

He won’t be the only recruit visiting campus this weekend. Nine players who already have made verbal commitments to Iowa – Marcus Coker, Andrew Donnal, Austin Gray, Matt Hardy, Christian Kirksey, James Morris, Brandon Scherff, Don Shumpert and Austin Vier – also will be making their official visits.

This is how backward recruiting has gotten. Many of those players have been committed for close to a year. Morris, whose father is Iowa’s equipment manager, has been committed for more than two years. But they’re just now making their visits.