CEDAR RAPIDS - After placing fourth at the state wrestling meet last season, Cedar Rapids Kennedy had a few holes to fill.
It appears the Cougars have armed themselves with a corps of promising freshmen.
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It was just in April that Iowa had a kingdom of running backs. With incoming players, the number for August camp was going to be nine.
That’s a lot. Too many. Sometimes these things have a way of taking care of themselves.
Sophomore running back Barkley Hill has left Iowa and is enrolled at Northern Iowa, according to the Waterloo Courier. (The paper contacted UNI coach Mark Farley, who said Hill is enrolled but offered no other update on his status as far as football goes. Here’s the link.)
So, the 6-0, 215-pounder is a student at UNI and may have a spot with the Panthers in Cedar Falls, where Hill earned Parade All-America and ESPN Gatorade Iowa Player of the Year honors after gaining 2,493 yards on the ground and scoring 40 touchdowns his senior season at Cedar Falls High School.
Hill’s one very real shot at being a major contributor in the backfield came in August of 2012, when Marcus Coker left the UI and Jordan Canzeri suffered a torn ACL. But in a second open scrimmage, Hill suffered a torn ACL while scoring a TD. Damon Bullock emerged. Mark Weisman introduced himself. Canzeri returned to health.
Opportunity is fleeting at Iowa RB.
Iowa will go into fall with eight scholarship RBs: Weisman, Canzeri, Bullock, LeShun Daniels, Jonathan Parker, Akrum Wadley, C.J. Hilliard and Markel Smith. I don’t see it going much past Daniels, but who knows. The Iowa RB thing settled last season. The Hawkeyes probably won’t need eight (probably), but these things take care of themselves.
Red-shirt freshman wide receiver A.J. Jones also has left Iowa. He was big, 6-3, 200, and that’s about all we know.
In March, I asked WR coach Bobby Kennedy about the four red-shirt freshmen wide receivers coming online this fall. Here was his answer:
“Andre Harris, boy, the sky’s the limit for him. He has really good ability. We continually talk to him about maturing and growing up because he’s really a good kid, he just doesn’t let everybody know it yet, so he’s young in his development.
“But I see really good quickness out of him, really good getting in and out of his cuts, a natural ball catcher, which I think is important for a wide receiver. With him I think he might have the opportunity if he continues to develop to give us maybe a little bit of juice that we’ve been missing.
“But on the other hand, these guys are still young, and like I said, they’re not finished products. It’s a process that we’ve got to continue with these guys.
“Derrick Mitchell, really strong and a powerful guy. If you look at his shoulders, he can probably put a two by four on his back and not see it. He’s a really wide‑shouldered kid but really strong and powerful. He has to do a little better job of getting in and out of those cuts. Sometimes he doesn’t play as physically as he could be, which I think he’ll grow into, but also a natural ball catcher. He’ll make a great play and then miss one. He’s got to develop his consistency.
“Willies we talked about a little bit earlier. Like I said, really a phenomenal athlete, OK, but what he has to do, also, which I think Tevaun is helping him with and Tevaun has grown into a little bit is just consistent overall. A lot of these young guys will make a play, make a play, make a play and then bust one or drop what people call an easy pass or a gimme pass. So for the group, once again, they’re not a finished product, but I see hem moving in the right direction. A guy that’s not talked about a lot that we played as a freshman is Matt VandeBerg, and he’s a guy that has got to develop a little more strength, and sometimes that’s tough. Their metabolism is so high, putting weight on sometimes is tough. But he’s got really good strength, he’s got really good quickness, getting in and out of cuts, can stretch the field. I see him as a guy who has an opportunity to play and make some impact.”
That was a whole bunch of words and no mention of Jones, who’s brother, Jyaz, was set to sign with Iowa but the parties grew cold before February’s signing day. In both Iowa’s open spring practices, Jones was a fourth-teamer. The red flags were flying.
Senior WR Blake Haluska will miss the season and his career is over. He was always a great-looking body, but couldn’t crack the rotation. He suffered a shoulder injury this spring.
“Blake’s injury will keep him from participating this fall,” Kirk Ferentz said in a release. “Barkley and A.J. have elected to continue their careers elsewhere. We wish each of the three the best of luck moving forwards with their careers.”
Hill, a running back from Denver, Iowa, didn’t see action as a red-shirt freshman in 2013. He red-shirted in 2012 after suffering a knee injury during the preseason. Jones, a wide receiver from Dallas, Texas, red-shirted in 2013 in his first year in the Iowa program.
Iowa is now at 85 scholarships. The next walk-on to be in line for a schollie would be kicker Marshall Koehn. Maybe Waukee OL Ross Reynolds, who remains on the gray shirt track. Long snapper Tyler Kluver probably isn’t far behind here.
— Hearing that the open position on the coaching staff (the one vacated by Eric Johnson) will soon be filled. Just a hunch, but Seth Wallace might be a fit.
Wallace was a grad assistant at Iowa from 2006-08. He’s from Grinnell and was an all-conference wide receiver at Coe. Wallace has spent the last six seasons at Valdosta (Ga.) State. He’s been co-defensive coordinator/full-defensive coordinator and has coached defensive backs.
Solid credentials, Iowa ties and he’s recruited and, presumably, has built relationships in Georgia. Iowa has flirted with getting into Georgia recruiting and made a few offers in the state this year. LB coach LeVar Woods talked about recruiting Atlanta this spring.
Ferentz has said the new hire would likely be recruiting coordinator.
Might know something soon.
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