The role of the tight end in the Hawkeye passing game shrank last season, but it could be due for a resurgence.
Senior quarterback James Vandenberg said Tuesday on the Big Ten spring football teleconference he had a “very talented group of tight ends.”
Iowa returns two starters at tight end — sophomore C.J. Fiedorowicz, the 6-foot-7, 265-pound high school all-American, and junior Zach Derby (6-3, 240), the former walk-on from City High.
Fiedorowicz caught 16 passes last season and Derby 12. The last time the top two tight ends combined to catch fewer passes in Iowa’s offense was in 2003 when Erik Jensen had 16 and Tony Jackson 5.
“I think just that the tight end group as a whole has come a long ways,” Vandenberg said. “They are expanding what we can do with the tight end position.”
New Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis has proven adaptable. He had three tight ends drafted in the NFL during his time with Texas — Bo Scaife in 2005, Dave Thomas in 2006 and Jermichael Finley in 2008.
(Iowa has had six tight ends drafted starting with Dallas Clark being taken in the first round in 2003.)
Vandenberg doesn’t see Davis doing anything significantly different with the tight ends like splitting them out wide or, say, standing them up.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that different,” Vandenberg said. “It’s a personnel group we know we’ve got to get the ball to.
“As long as they keep catching it, we’re going to keep throwing it to them.”
The group includes several young players including Ray Hamilton (6-5, 248), who caught one pass as a true freshman last fall.
Iowa also has two tight ends who redshirted — Henry Krieger-Coble (6-4, 235) and Jake Duzey (6-4, 235).
“Coach Davis comes from a system that has done it all,” Vandenberg said. “In recent years, an uptempo, almost no-huddle offense.
“That’s something we want to do. One of the harder things to learn right away. We want to be able to do proficiently in the fall.”
SATURDAY NOT THE END: Traditionally, the final practice is the one open to the public inside Kinnick Stadium.
This season, Iowa will have three more practices after the Spring Game on Saturday. Ferentz said it was because of scheduling conflicts with the Olympic Wrestling Trials on April 21 and 22.
LEGENDS PREVIEW? One reporter asked Ferentz for his early take on the 2012 Legends Division race.
“I have no idea,” Ferentz said. “Are we in the Legends? That’s so far out of my mind right now.”
Michigan, Nebraska and Minnesota each return 16 starters, Michigan State 15, Northwestern 13 and Iowa 12.
The teams returning players from either the All-Big Ten first or second team include Michigan State (5), Nebraska (2), Michigan (2) and Iowa (1).
Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tight end production
With year, catches by top two tight ends, indivudal TE leaders
2011 28 Fiedorowicz 16, Derby 12
2010 51 Reisner 43, Herman 9
2009 44 Moeaki 30, Reisner 14
2008 47 Myers 34, Moeaki 13
2007 35 Myers 21, Moeaki 14
2006 57 Chandler 46, Moeaki 11
2005 57 Chanlder 47, Majerus 10
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football