Three incoming Hawkeyes from the 2023 transfer portal cycle have yet to arrive on campus in Iowa City. They’ll do so in June, and each is a position of need for Kirk Ferentz‘ program. Notably, Kaleb Brown, the Ohio State transfer, will slide into the wide receiver room after being one of the top transfer targets at his position. At offensive line, Rusty Feth will join the Hawkeyes this June bringing loads of experience to the offensive front. At linebacker, Nick Jackson will step into Jack Campbell‘s spot after transferring from Virginia. Iowa’s reload in the portal brought a much-needed wave of talent to the roster after losing a few receivers in the portal and four players to the NFL Draft.
Kaleb Brown – Wide Receiver
The wide receiver room has been discussed widely amongst Hawkeye faithful leading into the 2023 off-season. Iowa not only needed a playmaker, but they also needed plain depth. Ohio State transfer Brown vaulted onto the radar following his visit to Iowa City on May 3rd. The former Buckeye caught just one pass in his true freshman season of 2022 but was one of the highest-rated wide receiver recruits in the class of 2022, 13th nationally at his position. In fact, Brown is the highest-ranked wide receiver to ever sign with the Hawkeyes, based on high school recruitment ratings.
While his talent brings a sure-fire upgrade to the room, what it really means is depth. Last year, the receivers struggled mightily with depth to begin the season. Arland Bruce IV was the only scholarship wide receiver on the field for the first two games of the season. In the spring, Nico Ragaini and transfer Seth Anderson sat out of the final spring practice with injuries. This allowed for some of the deeper roster guys to get reps, but also called attention to the potential repeat issues of depth. With Brown on the roster, that gives Ragaini, Anderson, and Diante Vines less weight to carry themselves, and more target options for quarterback Cade McNamara. That depth piece alone is probably the most significant factor with Brown’s transfer portal arrival in Iowa City.
Rusty Feth – Offensive Line
Speaking of depth, the offensive line was working with close to zero in 2022. Iowa allowed 38 sacks on the season. That put them 107th nationally. There was a clear indication that the group needed some help in the portal this offseason. Feth transferred in from Miami (OH) as a graduate transfer and will land in Iowa City this June. He played center in Oxford for the last two seasons, but primarily played guard in 2019 and 2020. The Hawkeyes will slide him back to the guard position this fall with Logan Jones playing center. At Miami, Feth started 34 games and is entering his fifth year of college football this fall. Similar to Brown, Feth’s presence on the line is significant for the group’s depth. Connor Colby will likely be the other guard, with Tyler Elsbury and Beau Stephens cycling behind them. Iowa also added Daijon Parker from Saginaw Valley State this offseason, flipping him from his previous commitment to Virginia. He joins the group at tackle, further adding to the depth up front.
Nick Jackson – Linebacker
The task of replacing the unanimous All-American and Butkus Award winner in Campbell is no easy feat. Campbell was 12th nationally in 2022 with 128 total tackles. But Jackson was fifth in the ACC with 104 tackles at Virginia last year. In his career in Charlottesville, Jackson has tallied 352 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks. Jackson was also ninth nationally with 10.4 tackles per game last year. His production for the Cavaliers was extremely high, and his addition to the Iowa linebacker room is crucial for the 2023 season.
The biggest thing Iowa gets from the transfer portal with Jackson is his veteran presence. It’s a linebacker room that lost Campbell and Seth Benson, who had 94 tackles himself in 2022. Both were known for their unwavering leadership on defense. Jackson was voted a team captain at Virginia last year and brings 33 total starts to Phil Parker‘s linebackers. He was Second Team All-ACC and was awarded the defensive team MVP last year. In addition to Jackson, the next men in for Iowa includes veteran backups Jay Higgins and Kyler Fisher. The two combined for 44 tackles and 15 games played in 2022.
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