May 27, 2012
Which freshmen will play?
As the incoming recruits end their time in high school, many of the new Hawkeyes are set to arrive on campus as soon as this weekend.
It's pretty amazing when you think about it. For a few of the Class of 2012 recruits, it's basically graduate one day and gets started with next stage of their life the next day. For some, that will include taking summer school classes to get acclimated to academics at the college level. For all of them, it means starting workouts with Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Doyle and his staff and getting a head start on preparing for the fall camp in early August.
During the past few weeks, we have caught up with nearly every incoming freshman to get their thoughts on their freshman year at Iowa and their expectations. Some are coming in knowing that the next year will be spent lifting, bulking up, and learning. For others, it's about getting to Iowa City with the plan of playing as a true freshman.
More and more in college football, including at the University of Iowa, true freshman are being counted on to play in their first year on campus. Gone are the days when a whole group of incoming freshmen are redshirted. It is about helping the team sooner rather than later, even if it means just a few plays on special teams.
Over the past five years, Iowa has averaged just over seven true freshmen playing in their first year on campus. Generally that number has spiked when veteran classes have been gutted by attrition leaving the team shorthanded when it comes to bodies, especially on special teams. Iowa has experienced that in the past two years when eight and ten true freshmen have played in 2010 and 2011.
What will this year hold for the Hawkeyes when it comes to true freshmen playing?
The attrition issues seem to be calming down a bit, which is a good thing. However, there are still what I would call "hot spots' where attrition certainly opens the door a bit wider, especially at positions like running back and wide receiver.
As we head into summer workouts, here's a look at who will likely play in year one and who is likely to redshirt. Of course, all of this is subject to change as fall camp gets started because that's where everything will be officially decided.
LIKELY TO PLAY
Sean Draper - Has the size and athletic ability to play on special teams.
Reese Fleming - Provided his knee is healthy, he has a great shot simply because Iowa needs playmakers at receiver.
Greg Garmon - Iowa is thin at running back and he has the talent to help.
Barkley Hill - See above.
Connor Kornbrath - Iowa's punting situation is up in the air. Might be his job to lose in camp.
Ruben Lile - Much like Draper, he's big, fast, and can make plays on special teams.
GOOD CHANCE TO PLAY
Kevin Buford - Iowa usually plays one freshman corner in some sort of role, so he has a shot if he impresses in fall camp.
Jaleel Johnson - Could probably be in the likely to play list, but the closer you are to the ball, the harder it is to see the field. Good chance he moves up to the likely list in camp.
Greg Mabin - Iowa needs speed at wide receiver. It wouldn't be a big surprise to see at least two freshmen wide receivers out on the field this fall.
Nate Meier - Every year a kid like Meier ends up playing. Loves the game and could make a difference on special teams. May end up redshirting if a position switch to defensive line were to happen.
Anthony Gair - Like Draper and Lile, he's athletic enough to play in his first year. Could see his stock rise on fall camp.
Tevaun Smith - Looks the part on film and Iowa needs athletic players at wide receiver. Will be one to watch in fall camp.
LaRon Taylor - Unlikely he would see position duties at linebacker, but if he shows value on special teams, he could help.
Cameron Wilson - Like Mabin and Smith, has a chance because of the thin ranks at wide receiver and the need to upgrade athleticism.
LIKELY TO REDSHIRT
C.J. Beathard - Pretty rare to see a freshman quarterback play at Iowa. Given the depth, it's unlikely that he plays in his first year.
Faith Ekakitie - He's still pretty raw as a defensive lineman, but the position is so inexperienced he might be the one guy on this list that could go from likely redshirt to playing as a freshman.
Mitch Keppy - Says he plans on spending the year in the weight room, so the plan for now is to redshirt.
Drew Ott - Needs at least a year in the weight room and will be adjusting to playing defensive line at the college level.
Reid Sealby - Like Keppy, he says he is planning to redshirt in is freshman year.
Daumantas Venckus - Needs at least a year in the weight room in order to compete up front in the Big Ten.
Ryan Ward - The most highly rated of all of Iowa's recruits in this class says he plans on redshirting.
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