Iowa’s Personnel Movement, Young Talent

Iowa’s Personnel Movement Young Talent
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Iowa’s Personnel Movement, Young Talent

Despite the two tough losses to end the season, the Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off one of their more successful years in recent history. Iowa finished the regular season 10-2 with an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game, and a New Year’s Day bowl appearance. Not a lot of teams have that opportunity. The Hawkeyes are one of just 12 college football teams to have already played a game in 2022. With the end of Iowa’s season comes some personnel movement and an opportunity to evaluate the young talent that will be returning next year. The consensus All-American Tyler Linderbaum has yet to officially announce his decision for next year. However, Iowa has a lot to look forward to in the 2022 season. 

He’s Back

After a 2021 season with four interceptions, two pick-sixes, and All-American honors, Riley Moss has announced that he will return to Iowa for another season. In a statement released earlier this week, Moss said, “I have more goals that I would like to achieve.” The talented cornerback will likely be a Jim Thorpe Award favorite to begin the 2022 season, and the leader of the Hawkeye secondary. At this point in his career, Moss has 10 interceptions through four seasons in Iowa City. Following the 2021 season, Moss was presented with the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award from the Big Ten. The award has been given to the conference’s outstanding defensive back since 2011. Since then, a Hawkeye has won five of them. Moss added his name to an elite list of defenders in the conference. He will have the chance to put his name on the national stage next season.

Key Departures

Running Back

Tyler Goodson opted out of the Citrus Bowl following Iowa’s loss in the Big Ten Championship game to prepare for the NFL Draft. His time in Iowa City produced team-leading numbers in all three of his seasons in the backfield. As a true freshman, he split time with Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young before getting the starting role late in the 2019 season. He finished that year with 638 rushing yards and five touchdowns. In the shortened 2020 season, Goodson averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns. He and Sargent had similar numbers that year and led the Hawkeyes to six straight wins to end the season. This year, in what became his final season at Iowa, Goodson surpassed the 1,000 rushing yard mark. He added seven touchdowns from scrimmage to finish the year. The Suwanee, Georgia native left his legacy at the University of Iowa as the Hawkeyes’ leading rusher in each of his seemingly short three seasons. 

His backup Ivory Kelly-Martin announced that he would be entering the 2022 NFL Draft as well. Kelly-Martin’s announcement came following the Citrus Bowl loss. In his five seasons at Iowa, he accounted for 1,000 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. Kelly-Martin’s leadership within the Hawkeye program during the turmoil of the 2020 offseason, and his persistence at the running back position were second to none. He deserves his shot at the next level after a successful five years in Iowa City.

Secondary

In the secondary, Jack Koerner announced he will be entering the NFL Draft after the Citrus Bowl. Koerner was a fifth-year senior for Iowa this season, and he will chase his dream of playing on Sundays. The former walk-on was a safety blanket in the secondary for the last three seasons. As one of the five veteran defensive backs this year, he helped Iowa to one of their best defensive seasons ever. He finishes his career in Iowa City with six interceptions and 217 tackles in 47 career games. Three of his interceptions came in back-to-back-to-back games in 2020 against Northwestern, Michigan State, and Minnesota. He will be missed in the secondary, but his veteran presence has prepared the next generation of ballhawks for Phil Parker

Quarterback Room

The quarterback room loses some depth via the transfer portal as Deuce Hogan has announced he is transferring to Kentucky. The redshirt freshman only got a couple snaps this season and will head to Lexington for 2022. Hogan was a four-star quarterback when he came to Iowa City. The reasoning for his decision to leave the program likely stems from a comment Kirk Ferentz made prior to their game against Nebraska in Lincoln. Both Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla had been battling the flu the week of the game. When asked about who the starter might be without Petras and Padilla, Ferentz made an uncharacteristic comment on Hogan. He said, “If it were Deuce, with all due respect to Deuce, I might have stayed in Iowa City.” The comment was clearly made in a joking matter, however, it made things difficult for Hogan. He decided to take his career elsewhere.

Young Talent

On Offense

With the departure of Hogan, the quarterback room opens up a little bit with a clear path for the soon-to-be redshirt freshman Joey Labas. He took reps with the twos in practices leading up to the Citrus Bowl, and Ferentz has liked his production at quarterback. Labas was a three-star out of Ohio who lit up the stat sheet for his high school. He threw for 56 touchdowns and nearly 7,000 yards. The 6’-4” quarterback has great upside potential under center with the Hawkeyes. 

In the Citrus Bowl, the Hawkeyes witnessed the talent that will be in the backfield for next season. Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams were both redshirt freshmen this past season, and showed bursts against Kentucky. Gavin played in 11 games and tallied over 300 yards. Of those yards, 98 of them came against the Wildcats in Orlando. He had his highest graded rushing game of the season according to Pro Football Focus with a 81.3 run grade. He also averaged over six yards per carry. Leshon had a solid day as well. He was the second-leading rusher with 42 yards, and showed a lot of physicality at the point of attack. The two accounted for three rushes of more than 10 yards in that game and will play a pivotal role in the backfield next season.

On Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, Jermari Harris stood out in the final game of the 2021 season. Harris had to step in for the injured Terry Roberts who was in for the injured Matt Hankins. The redshirt sophomore played in 13 of the 14 games this season and hauled in four interceptions. Against Kentucky, Harris had the best game of his young career with four tackles, an interception, and only 18 yards allowed. He earned a career-high 87.3 coverage grade according to Pro Football Focus. Iowa has a lot of firepower coming to the secondary in the next year. Harris has a chance to be one of the young veteran leaders for the new group of highly touted recruits in the next few seasons.

Iowa’s Personnel Movement, Young Talent

There’s a lot to look forward to entering the 2022 offseason. It starts with the returning talent from both experienced players to the young guys. Moss will bring extensive leadership to the Hawkeye secondary in a group that always seems to be full of veterans. Behind him will be one of Iowa’s best recruiting classes including five-star Xavier Nwankpa. On offense, there will likely be a quarterback battle this offseason. Labas is in position to make a lot of noise this spring and have a shot at the starting role. He’ll have some great running backs and a more experienced offensive line next season as well. This group as a whole is trending in the right direction. The model of consistency in Iowa City continues to consistently produce NFL talent and highly successful seasons.

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