Iowa Football

Iowa football embraces the spring grind

Wednesday's practice began with an inside drill that took no prisoners

IOWA CITY — Iowa football is six months from counting, but you wouldn’t know that by the amount of clacks going on in the Hansen Performance Center on Wednesday morning.

Iowa’s offensive and defensive linemen rang in the day with a high-intensity inside drill. Walk-on offensive lineman Kyler Schott and true freshman linebacker Dillon Doyle took turns pancaking and/or stalemating each other in their reps. Linebacker Aaron Mends and offensive tackle Alaric Jackson drove each other to the sidelines and into one of those giant camera lenses.

The coaches wanted this to be hard core. Offensive line coach Tim Polasek was loud. Linebackers coach Seth Wallace, who’s usually loud, found another level of loud. Defensive line coaches Reese Morgan and Kelvin Bell were quieter, but very hands on.

And you often heard head coach Kirk Ferentz saying, “Finish the drill.”

Wednesday was the Hawkeyes’ fourth practice this spring and their second in full gear. Iowa has 11 more practices (the Hawkeyes are practicing three times a week) with the spring scrimmage scheduled for April 20.

Offensive lineman Levi Paulsen, listed as the starter at right guard, wasn’t in pads and didn’t practice. Wide receiver Kyle Groeneweg, a No. 2 behind Brandon Smith at one receiver spot, also didn’t participate with a league injury.

— Senior Keegan Render moved from guard to center this season. The transition looked smooth Wednesday. Iowa’s offensive line moved some bodies in drills. Render looked smooth and showed quickness and excellent technique.

— Sophomore defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon is participating in spring practice despite the fact that he is ineligible for 2018.

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— Iowa has just four scholarship running backs for spring — sophomores Toren Young and Ivory Kell-Martin and freshmen Kyshaun Bryan and Camron Harrell.

Bryan missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.

“He was hurt a lot in the fall,” Ferentz said. “Right now he’s healthy and ready to go, so hopefully we’ll learn more about him this spring.”

Sophomore Toks Akinribade was in sweats. He’s been out since December with an ailment the family wants to keep private.

“He’s doing really well first of all,” Ferentz said. “The first semester, everything’s good academically. He’s back here working, going to school, and everything’s going really well. He’s just not quite there right now. So, there are a couple hurdles he has to get over.

“As you might well imagine, if there are any question marks at all, we’re going to air on the side of being smart. So we’re just going to let the medical people handle it here.”

— Ferentz announced earlier this month that safety Brandon Snyder (ACL), defensive end Romeo McKnight (ACL), fullback Austin Kelly (undisclosed), linebacker Kyle Taylor (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Matt Nelson (shoulder) would miss spring practice.

— The QB pecking order was junior Nate Stanley, redshirt freshman Peyton Mansell, junior Ryan Schmidt and true freshman Spencer Petras.

Petras is all of 6-5, 227. Nice arm and seems comfortable throwing on the run, something to consider with the Iowa staple play-action pass.

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— Junior TE Nate Wieting caught his first career pass in the Pinstripe Bowl. Wednesday, he ran over offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz in practice.

Ferentz popped right back up. Who knows when Wieting’s next target is coming now, though. (Kidding, kidding.)

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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