June 5, 2009

Moving year for the Class of 2007

Kirk Ferentz has said that the third year in the program is a generally a big one. In many ways it is moving year for players that are headed into either their sophomore or junior season. This is the year that players start to make their move up the depth chart or into even larger roles.

Some players have already moved into the depth chart and become starters from a class that Rivals.com rated as the 28th best in the country. Of the 22 signees in 2007, 17 remain in the program and seven are either already starters or could be this fall.

On the offensive side, one player has already cemented his spot in the lineup and that would be left tackle Bryan Bulaga. The former four star prospect is living up to the billing he received before arriving in Iowa City. After an early injury to his shoulder kept him on the sidelines early on, he emerged as a starter at guard and transitioned to tackle last season. Bulaga is already garnering All American mentions before the start of this season and the NFL Draft buzz is already starting to build.

Two players are potential starters this fall and even if they don't start, they will play a prominent role. Allen Reisner was a late offer in this class out of Marion High School. In his first year on campus, the former two star prospect impressed the coaching staff and saw limited duty at tight end. This year he will team up with Tony Moeaki at tight end to give the Hawkeyes two very capable and dangerous receivers.

Marvin McNutt came to Iowa as a quarterback. Once Ricky Stanzi emerged last season and took over as the starter, the former three star prospect from St. Louis decided that his best chance to play would be at wide receiver. By all accounts, the decision was a good one as McNutt came out of the spring as a starter at the position. Will he hold on to the starting spot in the fall? That is unknown, but he will see plenty of snaps at receiver.

On the defensive side, Christian Ballard enters his second year as a starter at defensive tackle. When Ballard, who Rivals.com rated as a four star prospect out of high school, arrived at Iowa, he was initially ticketed for tight end. That didn't last too long and he moved to end and found a home.

Tyler Sash jumped in last season at safety and once he got going, he never stopped. The playmaking strong safety showed a real nose for the ball with 53 tackles, five interceptions, and six pass breakups. Sash also had one of the biggest plays of 2008, his interception late in the win over Penn State. I always thought that Sash had a chance to really takeoff as a football player after got to Iowa and focused on one sport and that is proving to the case.

Two other defensive players are currently projected into the starting lineup this fall. Mike Daniels finished the spring as a starter at defensive tackle. Daniels came to Iowa at 230 pounds and is up to 270 pounds as a redshirt sophomore. He was a two star prospect coming out of high school in New Jersey and if he has a great opportunity for significant playing time this fall.

Out of all the players in the Class of 2007, no one attracted more attention from fans of the recruiting process than Jordan Bernstine. The Des Moines prep and four star prospect and Rivals 100 player had many significant offers and eventually settled on the Hawkeyes. While he did not redshirt, Bernstine has yet to see significant playing time, primarily because of injuries. Bernstine struggled with his health last fall and Amari Speivey took over the cornerback position and never looked back. This spring, Bernstine competed for the starting spot at cornerback and will be battling to hold onto that spot in the fall with Shaun Prater.

For several members of the Class of 2007, this will be the year they move into the depth chart and potentially put themselves in position for a starting spot and more playing time this year.

On the defensive side six players will be hoping to land in the two deeps and perhaps push starters for playing time. On the defensive line, Broderick Binns really emerged in spot duty last year at defensive end and it will be difficult to keep him off the field this fall. Binns got better and better as the season went along in 2008, finishing with 22 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He could see plenty of action in passing situations this year.

After playing as a true freshman, Cody Hundertmark sat out last season and used a redshirt year to recover from shoulder surgery. The coaches held him out of spring drills, but they expect the Humboldt native to be in the rotation at defensive tackle this fall. His high school teammate, Tyler Nielsen is in the two deeps at linebacker and has been a solid performer on special teams in the past year. His time as a starting linebacker may be a year away with A.J. Edds heading into his senior year.

LeBron Daniel, a three star prospect from Cleveland, is working his way up the depth chart at defensive end. With injuries this spring, Daniel could find his way into the two deeps this fall.

The final defensive player is Jacody Coleman. As a freshman, Coleman burst on to the scene at middle linebacker and saw quite a bit of playing time in place of the injured Mike Klinkenborg. It was assumed that he would take over the starting spot last fall, but Pat Angerer won the job early in the season and never looked back. Coleman will still see playing time this fall, though there is a chance that he may redshirt, and is likely slated to start in the middle next year.

On the offensive side, two Chicago area lineman followed the Ferentz career path and really started to emerge in the mix on the offensive line this spring. Adam Gettis was the talk of the spring up front as he made a strong push at guard. He might be one year away from starting, but Gettis is certainly a likely candidate for one of the guard spots next year. Marcus Zusevics was initially going to go the grayshirt route coming to Iowa, but that changed before camp and after redshirting, he made his way into the two deep this spring at tackle behind Bulaga.

Maybe the most interesting player on the offensive side to watch with respect to the depth chart this fall will be Colin Sandeman. The three star product from Bettendorf is almost certain to be Iowa's punt returner this fall, so he will see playing time. But, the last two years it appeared early in the year that he would be one of the top receiving targets and then he seems to fall back in the pecking order as the season progresses. There are plenty of talented receivers on the Iowa roster, so there will be a spirited battle for snaps and Sandeman will be in that mix in 2009.

The final player who is still at Iowa is tight end Zach Furlong. At this time he is down the depth chart at tight end and his playing time this year is probably not going to get many snaps.

On the downside, five players have left the program from the Class of 2007. Running back Jevon Pugh left after playing as a true freshman due to being homesick. As far as we know, he is out of football. Four star prospect Cedric Everson and two star prospect Abe Satterfield, both defensive backs, were removed from the team after being accused of a sexual assault in the dorms. They have not faced trial on those charges and both have continued their football careers, we think. Satterfield is still on the roster for Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Everson appeared on the Alcorn State roster last year, but he is no longer listed on their roster according to their web site. Dezman Moses flashed on special teams as a freshman, but decided to leave the Iowa program last year during the season and has transferred to Tulane. Diauntae Morrow left the program this spring and as of this point, he has not emerged at another school, though he is rumored to be looking at schools in the Mid-American Conference.

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