No. 8 -- CB B.J. Lowery
Crazy B.J. Lowery facts include:
-- I will spell these wrong, but starting from the youngest, it goes Felicia, Jasmine, Shamaya, Tianna, Tamyra, Shalyn and I couldn't hear the last one's name in the interview. Lowery is the third oldest.
"It was weird playing with Barbie Dolls most of the time instead of having a little brother to throw a football around with," Lowery said. He threw the football with his dad, Fernando Wright, and his older cousins.
-- Lowery's given name is Fernando, after his father. Boots is his father's nickname and B.J. is his son, so the "J" stands for Junior.
And there you have Boots Junior Lowery. Last year, Lowery was considering a name change to make it official.
So, where does "Boots" come from?
"I've never asked my dad," Lowery said. "People call me that all the time. Team, friends, that's pretty much everybody. Teachers sometimes. Coaches, too."
Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Phil Parker also calls him "Boots."
-- Lowery is from Cincinnati, Ohio. He calls his town the "Nasty Natti."
-- Last season, DT Carl Davis, all 315 pounds of him, fell on Lowery in the first game.
"That's a big guy," Lowery said with a laugh. "300-plus. We talk about it to this day. He falls on everybody, everybody and anybody. I just brushed it off. Carl and I are good friends."
Key 2012 factor: In his first season as a starter, the 5-11, 193-pound senior finished seventh on the Hawkeyes with 50 tackles. He picked off his first career pass against Northwestern. He also had three pass breakups.
Davis really did fall on Lowery. It happened during the first half of the Northern Illinois game at Soldier Field. Lowery sat out a series or two.
"B.J., in my opinion, is playing at his highest level he has right now," Parker said. "Hopefully, he continues that, but I think he was banged up last year. I think Carl Davis landed on him and hurt him a little bit, 315-pound guy. He really wasn’t the same after Carl landed on him."
Lowery eventually did miss two games (Minnesota, Michigan State) after suffering a high-ankle sprain against Central Michigan.
Offseason factor: Oh sure, Carl Davis landed on him. That didn't make Lowery shy out there. This spring, he often played force on sweeps with LT Brandon Scherff leading the way for RB Mark Weisman. There was one hit during the scrimmage in West Des Moines that still might be echoing through Valley High School.
"We try to be physical, that's the way he [Parker] makes us," Lowery said. "That's the way he was when he played. He tries to impose that will on us."
Competition: Lowery is Iowa's No. 1 CB. He plays on the left side, so he plays "field corner," which means he has the strong side of the field. After Lowery, there's redshirt freshman Maurice Fleming. And after Fleming, there's kind of a hole in Iowa's roster. Torrey Campbell and Kevin Buford left the program in the offseason, so CB is missing a few bodies. This could push incoming freshman Desmond King into the lineup this season.
Why No. 8?: This was a tough one. I had Lowery as high as No. 5, but decided to hold up on touchdown preventers and raise up touchdown makers. Iowa scored just 232 points last season, the worst since 222 in 2007.
That said, Lowery is a veteran, skilled, fearless cornerback who makes the defense better. His debut play was a pass breakup in a thrilling 2011 home victory over Michigan. Last season was a little quieter as far as signature plays go, but Lowery was steady.
More will be expected this season.
Outlook: Can Lowery play his way into the NFL draft? Of course. One thing Parker doesn't get enough credit for is the 11 players he's put into the NFL in 14-plus seasons. Seven of the 11 are still in the league, with rookie Micah Hyde climbing the depth charts in Green Bay.
As you know, Iowa is working through three QB candidates. This spring, the Iowa offense mostly avoided throwing at Lowery.
"I don’t know if we have anyone who had a better spring than B.J.," Ferentz said. "I would’ve loved to have brought him [to Chicago for Big Ten media days]."
A lot goes into a defense, but the Hawkeyes allowed opponents to complete 63.5 percent (224 of 353) of its passes last season. That's the highest completion percent ever allowed by an Iowa defense.
That has to change, and Lowery is the kind of talent who can front that sort of change.Click here for an interactive look at the complete Top 45 series.