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A closer look: Iowa linebackers

Competition continues at weakside linebacker

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THE DEPTH CHART

MLB — 1. Josey Jewell, jr., 6-2, 235; 2. Angelo Garbutt, fr., 6-2, 230 OR Jack Hockaday, so., 6-1, 227;

WLB — 1. Bo Bower, jr., 6-1, 235 OR Aaron Mends, so., 6-0, 223; 3. Amani Jones, true fr., 6-0, 215

OLB — 1. Ben Niemann, jr., 6-3 230; 2. Bower OR Hockaday; 3. Kevin Ward, jr., 6-1, 205

OTHERS — Eric Grimm, so., 6-2, 205; Jacob Sobotka, so., 6-3 235; Tristan Bohr, true fr., 6-3, 205; Nick Niemann, true fr., 6-4, 220; Kyle Taylor, true fr., 6-2, 220; Barrington Wade, true fr., 6-1, 210; Kristian Welch, true fr., 6-3, 220

NEXT MAN IN: KEEPING UP WITH JONES

True freshman Amani Jones has turned heads with a strong camp. He’s competing at weakside linebacker and is likely to play on all special teams.

“He has a real energy to him and a way of getting to the football and that is important as a defensive football player,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He has demonstrated a real maturity on the field. Still a lot to learn, like a lot of first-year players, but he is in the mix.”

Jones was injured for most of his senior year at Chicago Phillips, which became the first Chicago public school to win a state championship. He was a first-team all-state honoree as a junior.

While Jones’ dimensions (6 foot, 215 pounds) are not quite imposing, he’s made an impression with his teammates.

“He’s a really physical player, that’s what I’ve taken away the most,” said Iowa junior outside linebacker Ben Niemann. “We had summer skills and drills and then once we put on the pads, it’s a totally different guy. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there with the older guys. He’s really physical.”

ETC.

The competition at weakside linebacker remains open, although junior Bo Bower has a slight edge over sophomore Aaron Mends. As a freshman, Bower started the 2014 season at outside linebacker. He spent last year as a rover among the three spots. Mends entered the off-season as the starter and still figures to compete for time.

“Both of them have different types of qualities,” Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker said. “Obviously Mends is a guy who has good power and speed, and Bo’s a little bit more experienced. He played inside before, he played outside. He sees things a little bit faster than Aaron Mends. But they’re competing for the job, and Amani Jones is doing a good job there at will backer.”

Sophomore Jack Hockaday, who played on special teams last year, has played all three positions during camp.

l Comments: (319) 339-3169; scott.dochterman@thegazette.com

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