Iowa’s 2013 football recruiting class has made a noticeable imprint on the depth chart heading into fall camp.
“I haven’t studied it from that dynamic,” Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But we felt really good about last year’s class, and the (2014) class coming in.”
The Hawkeyes added 22 scholarship players in the Class of 2013. Eleven of those players were on the depth chart at the end of spring drills last week. So is offensive lineman Boone Myers, a walk-on member of a class that has the potential to be deep in experience by the time they become upperclassmen, setting the table for good teams in the future.
“Hopefully we have done that,” Ferentz said. “We’re going to graduate a great senior class this year. As long as those guys keep developing, that’s a good thing.”
Four members of the Class of 2013 played as true freshmen last season — cornerback Desmond King, linebacker Reggie Spearman, running back LeShun Daniels and wide receiver Matt VandeBerg. King started the last 12 games at right cornerback and is listed No. 1 at that position heading into this fall.
Spearman, who got a good share of his action in Iowa’s third-down Raider package, is also listed No. 1 heading into the fall. Daniels, who had 36 carries for 142 yards in seven games, and VandeBerg, who appeared in 11 games and started twice, are listed No. 2.
Sean Welsh, who will be a redshirt freshman in 2014, is listed No. 1 at left offensive guard.
“He’s clearly our fifth guy, but he’s got ground to make up,” Ferentz said. “I think he did that this spring. He’s on the right path. I think he’ll make it.”
Listed at No. 2 on the latest depth chart from the Class of 2013 are: split end Derrick Willies; left offensive tackle Ike Boettger; Myers at left offensive guard; outside linebacker Josey Jewell; middle linebacker John Kenny; right cornerback Malik Rucker; and wide receiver Damon Powell, the only junior college transfer in the class.
“I think they all belong there,” Ferentz said. “They’ve earned it. I feel like we’ve got some spots up for grabs and being competed for. But I also feel we have some good, young players coming up.”
Heading into his 16th season as Iowa’s head coach, Ferentz and his staff have followed the same blueprint for the most part: They get two- and three-star prospects and turn them into football players by schooling them in fundamentals and technique and having strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle build them up into Big Ten players.
Of the 21 high school seniors signed in the Class of 2013, 17 of them were three-star prospects and the rest two-stars, according to the Rivals.com rankings. Scout.com’s ratings had 15 of them as three-star prospects, the rest two-stars. Iowa’s 2013 class tied for 53rd in the Rivals team rankings. Scout had the Hawkeyes No. 51.
The four players who played as true freshmen all had different plans originally. King first committed to Central Michigan, and then Ball State, before signing with Iowa. Daniels was committed to Boston College but opened his recruiting after a coaching change. Spearman first committed to Illinois. And VandeBerg was going to join the program as a gray shirt, enrolling for the second semester, until a scholarship came open four days before practice started last fall.
Now, all four are entrenched in Iowa’s two-deep. VandeBerg and Willies, the Hawkeye flavor of the week after an outstanding performance in last Saturday’s spring scrimmage, have added depth to a wide receiver position that needed it.
Ferentz has tried to temper enthusiasm for Willies.
“It’s all about what you do today and the next day. It’s not about what’s already happened,” Ferentz said. “But we were real pleased with his progress and maturity during the fall.”
Ferentz said that Willies played his best football during spring practice, and took it up another notch the final week.
“He’s on the right track,” Ferentz said. “He’s got good teammates encouraging him. And they’ll keep reminding him what to do on a daily basis. We just want to encourage him to keep growing.”
CLASS OF 2013 POSSESSES DEPTH CHART CHOPS
Eleven of the 22 players to sign with Iowa in 2013, plus walk-on Boone Myers, are currently on the Hawkeyes’ two-deep heading into fall practice in August.
Ike Boettger, 6-foot-6, 267 pounds, redshirt freshman, Cedar Falls: No. 2 left offensive tackle. Has made the move from tight end to offensive line, following the path of former Hawkeyes such as John Alt and Robert Gallery. Was QB until senior year of high school.
LeShun Daniels, Jr., 6-0, 230, sophomore, Warren, Ohio: Shares line at No. 2 running back with Damon Bullock. Saw action in seven games last season, rushing for 142 yards. Poised to replace Mark Weisman as team’s power back in 2015.
Josey Jewell, 6-2, 225, redshirt freshman, Decorah: No. 2 outside linebacker. Moved there from weakside linebacker in the spring. One of the last players in class of 2013 to get offered scholarship.
John Kenny, 6-2, 225, redshirt freshman, Carmel, Ind.: No. 2 middle linebacker. Also sharing No. 2 spot at weakside linebacker with Cole Fisher. Enrolled at mid-semester in 2013, and took part in spring drills.
Desmond King, 5-11, 190, sophomore, Detroit: No. 1 right cornerback. Elevated to starting position after Jordan Lomax was injured in season opener. Finished with 44 solo tackles, 25 assists, three tackles for a loss, eight pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Made ESPN’s Big Ten all-freshman team.
Boone Myers, 6-5, 285, redshirt freshman, Webster City: No. 2 left offensive guard. Had scholarship offer from Northern Iowa but decided to walk on at Iowa. Was a tight end in a single-wing offense at Webster City.
Damond Powell, 5-11, 180, senior, Toledo, Ohio: No. 2 wide receiver. Junior college transfer caught 12 passes for 291 yards (24.2 average) and two touchdowns, including a 74-yarder against Minnesota.
Malik Rucker, 6-0, 175, redshirt freshman, Minneapolis: No. 2 right cornerback. Had scholarship offers from 17 schools, including the hometown Gophers. Was rated No. 2 player in state of Minnesota as a senior.
Reggie Spearman, 6-3, 230, sophomore, Chicago: No. 1 weakside linebacker. Redshirt came off in fourth game of the season, against Western Michigan. Played in final 10 games, making 10 tackles. Turns 18 years old two weeks before season opener against Northern Iowa.
Matt VandeBerg, 6-1, 175, sophomore, Brandon, S.D.: No. 2 wide receiver. Saw action in 11 games, with eight catches for 59 yards. Long reception of 14 yards against Michigan State. Started against Michigan and Nebraska.
Sean Welsh, 6-3, 285, redshirt freshman, Springboro, Ohio: No. 1 left offensive guard. Fills spot vacated by Conor Boffeli. Had 17 scholarship offers, including Miami of Florida, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Derrick Willies, 6-4, 210, redshirt freshman, Rock Island, Ill.: No. 2 split end. Also offered by Iowa State, Eastern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Illinois State. Had 42-yard touchdown catch in spring game and gained 52 yards on another catch.