CENTRAL CITY - There were plenty of new faces, but still bountiful options for the Lone Tree high school football team.
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THE DEPTH CHART
FIRST UNIT: WR — Matt VandeBerg, sr., 6-1, 190; Jerminic Smith, so., 6-1, 187; Riley McCarron, sr., 5-9, 186 OR Jay Scheel, so., 6-1, 185; TE — George Kittle, sr., 6-4, 250; Peter Pekar, jr., 6-4, 250
SECOND UNIT: WR — Devonte Young, true fr., 6-0, 195; Adrian Falconer, so., 6-1, 190; Ryan Boyle, fr., 6-1, 208 OR Emmanuel Ogwo, fr., 6-0, 177; TE — Nate Vejvoda, fr., 6-5, 238 OR Nate Wieting, fr., 6-4, 245 OR T.J. Hockenson, true fr., 6-5, 230 OR Noah Fant, true fr., 6-5, 220.
OTHER WR — Jonathan Parker, jr., 5-8, 188 (injured); Brandon Bishop, so., 5-9, 180; Dominique Dafney, so., 6-1, 213; Connor Keane, jr., 6-1, 195; Ronald Nash, so., 6-2, 210; Shaun Beyer, true fr., 6-5, 210
OTHER TE — Jon Wisnieski, jr., 6-5, 250 (injured)
NEXT MAN IN: J & J
Sophomores Jerminic Smith and Jay Scheel are expected not only to contribute this year, but become primary performers at wide receiver. Smith started two games as a true freshman last year and caught six passes for 141 yards. His key contributions came against Illinois, when he grabbed four passes for 118 yards.
Scheel, a former high school quarterback at La Porte City Union, played briefly in two games last year with no statistics. He limped through a pair of knee surgeries that robbed him of his first year and most of his second. But now he appears set to play a significant role this season.
“Jerminic got to start a ballgame and made some plays, certainly to show that he has some playmaking ability,” Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. “But there’s an entire difference of being a guy that gets in a ballgame 10 snaps — even starts one game — and then the yearly grind of down after down. So I think it definitely helped him that he played.
“I think Jay Scheel had a really good spring. He has a really good camp. So I think two guys, maybe both of those two guys, will hopefully be able to step in and take over for where Tevaun (Smith) has been the last three years.”
Outside of wide receiver Matt VandeBerg and tight end George Kittle, Iowa is extra green among its pass catchers. Kittle and VandeBerg combined for 85 catches for 993 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. The rest — only Jerminic Smith and Riley McCarron — totaled 11 catches for 197 yards and a score.
At tight end, that leaves no returning catches behind Kittle. The Hawkeyes run a two-tight end formation about 30-40 percent of their offensive plays, so someone new is playing at least a third of the downs. That could include true freshmen T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant.
“Someone is going to have to play,” tight ends coach LeVar Woods said. “So we’re going to have to develop two, three, four guys out of the whole group and someone’s going to have to do it.”
True freshman Devonte Young, red-shirt freshman Ryan Boyle (a one-year rental from quarterback) and true sophomore Adrian Falconer are among the competitors vying for time at wide receiver.
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