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IOWA CITY — When Josey Jewell steps foot on the Kinnick Stadium turf next fall, he’ll be a three-year starter. He will have seen and done some things on that field.
A few weeks ago, the Iowa senior linebacker did something on the Kinnick turf that he had never before done. He proposed to his girlfriend, Micole Lansing.
Before we go any farther in this story, the answer was yes. No suspense here.
Not many people can wrangle Kinnick Stadium for a wedding proposal. Jewell said he talked to a few people and also ran a little bit of a game on Micole.
One of Micole’s friends was taking pictures for a school portfolio. The plan was to do the shoot somewhere else, but Jewell suggested Kinnick.
“I said, ‘I talked to someone today and they said we could take a tour of Kinnick and take pictures down there,’” Jewell said Wednesday. “It all went from there.”
Jewell, 22, doesn’t feel more like an adult now that he’s engaged.
“It doesn’t change much for me,” he said. “I act the same way I did before. Nothing is going to change.”
The question came up jokingly, but what if it was a no? Out there on the Kinnick turf?
“That would’ve been unfortunate,” he said. “I might’ve had to take some time off. I’m joking, it was going to be all right.”
Being engaged in college isn’t for everyone. Senior offensive lineman Sean Welsh, for instance.
“It’s crazy, everyone in my class is getting engaged,” Welsh said. “I don’t know if I could even deal with a dog, like getting a dog right now let alone getting married.”
Senior tight end Peter Pekar was put on scholarship this winter. The senior from Greendale, Wis., caught one pass for 5 yards last season. He earned his scholarship from his blocking.
Late in the year, Iowa plugged into a two-tight end package that had Pekar and sophomore Nate Wieting on the field. And it worked, because Pekar and Wieting kept getting snaps (369 and 118, respectively) without seeing the ball go their way (they were on the field for 56 pass plays combined).
Pekar has no problem with this. Sure, he’d like to see a few more opportunities in the passing game. He’s human. But he’s good with his role.
“Whatever I can do for the team, obviously,” Pekar said. “Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Just getting on the field and doing something to help the team, I’m happy to do it.”
With Pekar now on scholarship, Iowa is at 89 scholarships. It has to be at 85 in August, per NCAA rules.
Almost every reporter asked questions about Iowa’s new offense on Wednesday. Brian Ferentz was promoted to offensive coordinator in January, replacing Greg Davis who retired after the season.
Players and coaches were nimble in their maneuvering around the question. (Expect a tight lid on this, probably even April 7 when the new offense makes its first public appearance in Des Moines.)
Actually, defensive line coach Reese Morgan, who coached Brian Ferentz when he played at Iowa (2002-05), brought it back to the head-to-head competition he sees every day in practice between Ferentz and defensive coordinator Phil Parker.
Neither one is built to give an inch.
“You’ve got Phil Parker and Brian Ferentz, come on now,” Morgan said. “If they were playing Ping-Pong, somebody’s going to come out of there a winner.”
Iowa hired two new assistants — O-line coach Tim Polasek and wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland — and also brought back Ken O’Keefe to coach quarterbacks.
Recruiting territories will shift for Iowa’s assistants. Wednesday, linebackers coach Seth Wallace said he yielded Wisconsin to Polasek, a Wisconsin native. Other than that, it doesn’t sound as if territories have been finalized.
“I guess it’s yet to be determined,” Wallace said when asked about his recruiting areas. “I’ll continue to have the northern suburbs of Chicago and I’m sure they’ll find me a place down in Florida, hopefully. That would be nice to be down there for a couple of weeks.”
Junior defensive end Matt Nelson didn’t practice Wednesday. He wore a boot on his right leg. Morgan wouldn’t put a timetable on his return. Wieting also had his right leg in a boot and was on crutches.
Defensive tackle Nathan Bazata (ankle), fullback Drake Kulick (leg and shoulder), linebacker Ben Niemann (undisclosed), linebacker Nick Niemann (undisclosed), defensive tackle Jake Newborg (knee), cornerback Cedric Boswell (undisclosed) and defensive end Anthony Nelson (undisclosed) also weren’t in uniform and didn’t practice.
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