DEFENSIVE END JOE GAGLIONE
Arrival: The 6-4, 264-pounder has had a rough ride to his fifth year. He barely got out of the blocks in his first three years at Iowa. Coming out of Lake Catholic (Ohio) High School, Gaglione had scholarship offers from Iowa, Indiana and Pittsburgh. He opened eyes with a 22-sack season at Lake Catholic, the same high school former Iowa QB and current Kansas City Chief Ricky Stanzi graduated from.
Gaglione redshirted in 2008. He positioned himself to make waves in '09, but suffered a season-ending shoulder surgery during August camp. In '10, he played in mop-up duty against Iowa State and didn't see the field the rest of the season.
Gaglione finally hit the field in '11, playing in 10 games and making seven tackles with a half tackle for loss.
2012 Takeoff: Gaglione started spring practice as a No. 2 defensive tackle behind redshirt freshman Darian Cooper. Between that depth chart being typed and the spring scrimmage on April 14, Gaglione made a couple of moves.
He ended up at defensive end and held down the starter spot. That's a better spring than Tiger Woods.
"Joe Gaglione, who’s barely played, he had a good spring, certainly a starting point," head coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Now, can he stick? This space has talked a few times about mature bodies along the line of scrimmage. Gaglione has had five years in the weightroom, so he does bring a punch on the edge that a the younger D-ends on the roster (freshmen Riley McMinn and Melvin Spears and sophomore Mike Hardy) just don't have quite yet.
During the spring scrimmage, Gaglione showed enough punch against right tackle Brett Van Sloten to force the junior to "reset" before engaging Gaglione again. Van Sloten showed great feet in getting back into the play, but Gaglione showed he can move a big OT off his stance. If Gaglione follows that up with quick steps, he could be a valuable pass rusher.
Pass rush is a question mark for this team. The Hawkeyes finished tied for eighth in the Big Ten with 21 sacks last season, but the top returning sacks leader is end Dominic Alvis, who had 1.5. DL Steve Bigach, OLB Christian Kirksey and CB B.J. Lowery are the only other returners with a sack.
Iowa is unconventional in its approach toward pass rush. First-year defensive coordinator Phil Parker would prefer to rush four to get pressure on the QB, just as former DC Norm Parker did and just has every DC in the country would prefer.
Iowa doesn't normally have the sleek, statuesque DE who has 3 percent body fat and looks great on the beach. The Hawkeyes will take pressure from wherever they can find it on the DL. Tackles (Mike Daniels, Karl Klug and Mitch King) have led the Hawkeyes in sacks three of the last five seasons.
Norm Parker's defense wanted to make the offense one dimensional and, generally, was terrific against the run. Iowa might give up a few sacks to contain a rushing game between the ends.
Still, something of a pass rush is essential. Gaglione might be able to help with that.
"We’re not pigeonholed," D-line coach Reese Morgan said. "We can’t go out and recruit anybody right now. We’ve got the guys we have. We have 10 guys right now in spring ball who can participate."Our job is to do the best we can at getting those guys to improve, develop them, have them understand conceptually what’s going on, understand the fundamentals of football, leverage, pad level, effort, toughness, all that stuff."