Hawkeyes' depth chart comes into focus as camp winds down
Iowa defensive end Cedrick Lattimore (95) tries to block a pass by quarterback Nathan Stanley (4) during the annual Kids Day at Kinnick practice at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, August 13, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Eau Claire (Wis.) Leader-Telegram photo by Marisa Wojcik Menomonie quarterback Nathan Stanley throws a pass Thursday at Williams Stadium
IOWA CITY — True freshman Nathan Stanley might be Iowa’s No. 2 quarterback. And he might not see a down this season and take a redshirt.
The Hawkeyes are nearing the end of fall camp, which wraps up this week before they gear into game week on Monday. So, a lot of what head coach Kirk Ferentz and coordinators Phil Parker and Greg Davis had to say Tuesday morning isn’t written in pen.
Some players have emerged from 25 fall practices. Some have disappeared. Some are stuck in a holding pattern, showing promise one day and sliding back the next.
Stanley, a 6-5, 212-pounder from Menomonie, Wis., certainly fits into the “emerged” and “promise” category. Ferentz said Tuesday that the backup quarterback spot was “still being contested pretty strongly.” Later, he was asked specifically about Stanley making a bid to become Iowa’s backup as a true freshman, something that hasn’t happened since Drew Tate in 2003.
“Anything is open right now,” Ferentz said. “It’s fair to say C.J. (Beathard) is our best quarterback. He’s really been practicing well. After that, we’ll continue to reassess. I don’t think we’re ready to make a decision yet. In a perfect world, we’d love to redshirt him, but we’ll let it play out. All three guys are competing.”
Move the conversation over to Davis and it gets a little more specific. Stanley is in contention for the No. 2 spot with sophomore Tyler Wiegers. Davis said Stanley is the No. 3, ahead of redshirt freshman Drew Cook.
But again, Stanley might be Iowa’s No. 2 QB or he might settle into a redshirt, which what Ferentz and Davis hope for. In Iowa’s perfect world, Beathard soaks up all of the meaningful downs. But let’s say he doesn’t. What’s the situation? What will be the demand for the No. 2?
“Part of the decision is, does CJ’s helmet come off?” Davis said (remember, a player has to come out of the game for a play if his helmet comes off). “Are we ready to burn a year (on Stanley for that situation)? All that will kind of play out as the season goes on. Needless to say, Nate has done a really nice job in camp.”
Let’s take a quick refresher on what Iowa got in Stanley when he signed with the Hawkeyes in February.
— Stanley passed for 1,728 yards and 16 touchdowns with four interceptions during his senior season at Menomonie High School. He holds school records for passing yards (3,674) and career touchdown passes (36). Stanley was a four-year letterman as quarterback, defensive back and punter.
— It didn’t hurt that Stanley’s parents, Jay and Donita, graduated from Wartburg and that Donita is from Iowa. Also, it didn’t hurt that Jay has a strong coaching background, serving as an assistant Menomonie football coach, assistant UW-Stout women’s basketball coach and former Menomonie head boys’ basketball coach.
“He’s a coach’s son, so he’s been around the game a lot,” Davis said. “He came in with a great understanding that he didn’t understand, if that makes sense. So many of them come in and they think it’s going to be simple to gather all of this information. He came in understanding this was going to be a lot and he knew he had to focus and get the foundation down.”
— Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst offered Stanley when Chryst was still coaching at Pittsburgh. He took over at Wisconsin before last season and kept recruiting Stanley until signing day.
As a prep, Stanley attended just a few college camps and ended up with two offers, Iowa and Wisconsin.
“It was obvious when he got here that this kid was a big-time quarterback,” said Iowa linebackers coach Seth Wallace, who recruited Stanley. “Once we started learning more about him, it became really obvious that we really, really wanted Nate Stanley.”
— And let’s throw in this item from Ferentz.
“He might have the biggest hands of any player I’ve ever shook hands with,” Ferentz said. “I thought he had a baseball glove on the last time I shook his hand. So, that’s a good thing in the midwest.”
Beyond backup quarterback, some other depth chart moves are starting to come together. Iowa will release a depth chart for the first game, Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 3, on Friday.
— Junior Bo Bower has worked his way into starting weakside linebacker, ahead of sophomore Aaron Mends. “Right now, I’d say Bo Bower is the leading candidate,” Parker said. “It’s not set in stone, we still have a ways to go.”
— Ferentz said kicker remains wide open with sophomores Miguel Recinos and Mick Ellis and true freshman Keith Duncan still in the race. True freshman Caleb Shudak didn’t make that cut.
— Senior Ron Coluzzi has won punter and has been put on scholarship, but Ferentz made it sound like it’s not totally over and redshirt freshman Colten Rastetter hasn’t surrendered. If there were a game tomorrow, it’d be Coluzzi.
— Tight end after senior George Kittle also remains wide open, Ferentz said. That could include a pair of true freshmen, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson.
Ferentz said redshirt freshman wide receiver Emmanuel Ogwo has decided to leave the team to concentrate on running track. Also, redshirt freshman linebacker Nick Wilson was kicked off the team. Wilson, a scholarship linebacker from Granger, wasn’t invited to participate in fall camp and was arrested last weekend for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
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