Iowa's Ferentz visits Polk County I-Club

CLIVE — If any bus trip-based grousing from players bubbled up, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t hear it.

If anything, the internal and external response to the Hawkeyes’ novel April 14 practice at West Des Moines Valley High School demonstrated a return visit might be in order.

“I could see us doing it on a regular basis,” said Ferentz, who spoke to the media Tuesday before a Polk County I-Club gathering at the 7 Flags Event Center.

“We’ll talk about it when we get done with spring practice. You know, the weather wasn’t great. If it had been, I think we may have had a few more thousand people there (an estimated 8,000 attended), but all in all I think it was really a win-win situation.”

Ferentz eventually addressed a crowd of more than 700 Iowa fans Tuesday, as awards were handed out to former quarterback James Vandenberg, center James Ferentz and guard Matt Tobin.

Polk County I-Club president Joe Chmelka said the ongoing success of the annual event received a boost from the unorthodox practice road show that unfolded nine days earlier amid blustery conditions.

“After a 4-8 season, I-Club attendance dips a little bit,” said Chmelka, who’s in his 13th year as the Polk County chapter’s president. “Let’s not kid ourselves. But we’ll have over 700 people in here tonight and a big part of it is just helping get the word out. (The practice at Valley) really helped get the word out about our events and what we do and who we are. It’s dynamite from that perspective.”

Fans who braved the elements saw the Hawkeyes’ 3-way battle for the No. 1 quarterback job progress — though separation among Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard remains minimal.

Three more spring practices remain, culminating in Iowa’s open one on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.

“ I think they all have different strengths,” said Vandenberg, a three-year starter who hopes to see a possible pro career take shape late this week. “That’s certainly something you’ve got to evaluate. Which one fits with what coach (Greg) Davis wants in his second year (as offensive coordinator)? I’m not totally sure. I think they all have a great chance. Jake’s been here the longest, but coach Davis has only been here as long as Cody and C.J. have been here, so it’s certainly an exciting competition. I think they’re really embracing it and having a good time with it.”

Ferentz noted that settling on a No. 1 playcaller will likely take awhile.

“We’ll let it play out this week and see how it looks,” Ferentz said. “My guess is we’ll probably go at least halfway through (fall) camp before we really make a final decision about who’s going to start the opening ball game because it’s all pretty close right now. ... I think we can be successful with all three guys. It’s just a matter of figuring out what the best equation is.”

SIFTING THE LAYERS: Ferentz lost two down-the-depth-chart defensive backs — Torrey Campbell and Kevin Buford, it was announced Tuesday.

Buford plans to transfer.

So does Campbell, symbolically anyway, but he won’t be going far.

He’s choosing to focus on track.

“Neither one was a huge surprise to us,” Ferentz said.

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