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Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Donahue’

A look at the specialists

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Projected starters – Punter Ryan Donahue (6-3, 190, sr.); kickers Daniel Murray (5-10,185, sr.) or Trent Mossbrucker (6-0, 204, so.); deep snapper Andrew Schulze (6-5, 255, sr.)

Top reserves – Eric Guthrie (6-6, 245, jr.), Charlie Knipper (6-4, 230, fr.)

Futures – Jonathan Mullings (6-3, 210, fr.); Mike Meyer (6-2, 175, fr.)

Donahue is another of those unsung heroes, a guy who doesn’t get much publicity or attention but who is highly valued by the coaching staff for his work ethic and consistency. His punting average fell slightly to 40.9 yards last season, but he dropped 27 punts inside the 20-yard line and had a career-low five touchbacks. He also did not have a punt blocked all season.

Murray is the incumbent place-kicker, but he may have a hard time holding off Mossbrucker, who redshirted last season after some very impressive moments as a freshman in 2008. Mossbrucker was 13 for 15 on field goals and set Iowa’s single-season freshman scoring record before being inexplicably replaced by Murray late in the season. Murray was OK last season – 19 for 26 with a long kick of 48 yards – but head coach Kirk Ferentz never seemed fully satisfied. This may be the most competitive position battle of the fall.

Schulze enters his fourth season as the regular long snapper and one of the most intriguing stories on the Hawkeye roster is Mullings, a 22-year-old Australian rugby player who launched an 85-yard punt for Ottumwa High School last fall. And there’s also another capable kicker waiting in the wings if both Murray and Mossbrucker flop. Meyer, a former Dubuque Wahlert star, looked pretty good in last week’s Kids Day scrimmage.

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?

Hawks getting their kicks, too

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

ou won’t see any punters and kickers on the list of scholarship recruits that Iowa will sign next week, but with Ryan Donahue and Daniel Murray both being seniors next year, Kirk Ferentz and his staff are looking to the future.

Punter Jonny Mullings will come on board as a “grayshirt,’’ which means he won’t enroll in school until next January. And the Hawkeyes enticed place-kicker Mike Meyer to join them as a walk-on.

Both are pretty intriguing prospects.

Mullings is a 21-year-old former rugby player who grew up in England and now lives in Austra-lia. In between, he spent a year as a foreign exchange student in Ottumwa, where he wasn’t even eligible to play in varsity games but once launched an 85-yard punt in a JV game. He’s a big guy – 6-foot-4, 215 pounds – whose rugby style punts could really be effective in some of the windswept stadiums of the Big Ten.

Meyer, a senior at Dubuque Wahlert, also brings a tremendously strong leg. He kicked off 30 times last season and 28 of them went for touchbacks. He also was eight for nine on field goals with six of those coming from beyond 40 yards and one of them coming from 56 yards. He could actually have an immediate impact because neither Murray nor sophomore Trent Mossbrucker, who figures to eventually replace him as the Hawkeyes’ place-kicker, has an extremely strong leg. (Murray had just five touchbacks on 66 kickoffs last season and averaged 60.8 yards per kickoff.) It’s possible that Meyer could be used on kickoffs and long field goals next fall with Murray handling extra points and short-range field goals.