College Football

Quick Slants: Iowa backup quarterback is 'wide open' for 2018

Plus, 10th coach coming, running short on RBs

The Iowa Hawkeyes celebrate after beating Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 27, 2017. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
The Iowa Hawkeyes celebrate after beating Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 27, 2017. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

IOWA CITY — Here’s another example of the graduate transfer being one of the best things the NCAA has thought of in recent years.

Quarterback Tyler Wiegers did everything Iowa asked him to do as a backup quarterback for four years. Wiegers never made it to a starting role. With Nate Stanley taking over this year, Wiegers’ prospects for playing time in 2018 were nonexistent.

Wiegers graduated in December, stayed with the Hawkeyes for the Pinstripe Bowl and then transferred to Eastern Michigan. The 6-4, 225-pound Lake Orion, Mich., native has a year to make a go with EMU.

“I don’t see that as a selfish move at all,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday. “I think quarterbacks are a unique discussion to me personally, when they transfer.

“It’s probably a good thing sometimes because we haven’t had a better kid in our program in 19 years than Tyler Weigers. What a tremendous young man, tremendous family. He’s done everything we’ve asked. .... So I’m happy for him. I’m really excited. I hope he has a great year, and I think he will.”

Iowa’s QB depth chart has changed. Junior Nate Stanley is the starter. That won’t change, not after 26 TD passes and just six interceptions in his first season as a starter. Ryan Boyle will be a junior, but after trying wide receiver in 2016 and then moving back to QB last year, it’s hard to gauge where he stands. Redshirt freshman Peyton Mansell (6-3, 210) has a year in the program. Incoming freshman Spencer Petras is incoming. Literally. Ferentz said he’ll be in Iowa City on Thursday night.

Nutshelling the race for the backup role: “It’s wide open. Wide open,” Ferentz said.


10th coach coming

Ferentz isn’t in a hurry on the 10th assistant coach. Last year, the NCAA approved the hiring of a 10th assistant football coach. That was tabled until the start of 2018. You’re now seeing schools start to make those hires.

Ferentz said he had a plan in place before this was tabled for a year. Now ...

“I think I know where we’re going on this whole thing, but I also think there’s no compelling reason to pull the trigger right now or make a decision,” Ferentz said. “So, we’ll tread water here for a little bit and just see what the landscape looks like and probably do something here mid-month, late month, somewhere in that ballpark, possibly, early February.”

When the talk of the 10th assistant started, Ferentz said tight ends/special teams coach LeVar Woods would become special teams coordinator. That remains the plan. This allows linebackers coach Seth Wallace to concentrate on defense.

“That’s part of the plan that I announced last year to see him (Woods) transitioning into that role and free Seth up to more defensively, more quality time on the defense, which he’s kind of been doing two jobs and so I think that will help fortify the efforts in the defensive room, just give him one thing to concentrate on. I think it will help our special teams and I thought LeVar did a great job with that transition this year, he was tremendous. Seems really comfortable in that role.”

So, the 10th doesn’t necessarily have to be a defensive coach.

“I think you can do it with fine with nine coaches, me personally,” Ferentz said. “But I think we also need more help not so much from the football part. You get too many people in football you get everything screwed up.

“But just all the stuff that we’ve got to do. Recruiting is a huge part of it. And then making sure our players are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, too, that’s more than full time.”

Running back order?

Ferentz was asked this question. It’s too early for a substantial answer.

Right now, Iowa has only two scholarship running backs in the chute for the spring — sophomores Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin. Redshirt freshman Kyshaun Bryan suffered a shoulder injury in fall camp and might not be ready for spring practice. Toks Akinribade is out for spring after an undisclosed surgical procedure.

Henry Geil, a 6-1, 211-pounder from Green Bay, Wis., is an incoming freshman.


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“It’s pretty short right now. Flip a coin,” Ferentz said. “You’ve got Toren and Ivory. So those are the two guys. So that’s where it all starts. Toren is a really, really impressive young man. I think he’s going to play really well for us. And Ivory has already shown some really good things. That’s where it’s at and we’ll have to develop more depth there for sure.”

Quick slants

— Senior defensive tackle Matt Nelson suffered a lower-leg injury in the Pinstripe Bowl and will miss spring practice.

“He won’t be out there for spring practice,” Ferentz said. “He’ll be fine and is fine.”

— Iowa still has two signed but unannounced players from the early signing period — Indianapolis defensive backs Julius Brents and D.J. Johnson.

Ferentz is OK granting the players’ wishes to keep things unannounced.

“My obligation is more to our players than it is to our fans,” Ferentz said. “I love our fans. I’m not trying to be disrespectful there, but if players have requests, I try to honor them, if they’re reasonable. Not all requests, obviously. No, you can’t have ice cream every night, I’m sorry.”

— Safety Noah Clayberg has left the program. The Pella native came in as a grayshirt, which is a freshman paying his own way and not being part of the team until the second semester of his freshman year. You probably won’t see Iowa go the grayshirt route much anymore.

“He’s a tremendous young guy and kind of made me rethink whatever we call it the gray-shirt thing, like I’m not so sure that’s a great deal,” Ferentz said. “I think it’s better for players to come in be in the flow of things instead of having to be outside looking in, I’m not so sure that’s a great idea. Other people have probably done better with it, but there’s something about being part of a team.”

— Iowa’s 2018 recruiting class is now up to 19 with the addition of wide receiver Nico Ragaini (6-0, 190). Ragaini had offers from Boston College and Yale.


Ragaini attended Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Conn., and then spent last year in prep school at Avon Old Farms (Conn.). He will enroll this semester, which begins Jan. 16.

Ferentz said Iowa will still be out for prospects through the second signing period, which begins Feb. 7.

“I think we’ve got a decent pool right now of guys we’re looking at,” Ferentz said. “I would imagine over the next two weeks might come up on some other stuff that might be interesting to consider. And there are a couple of positions we still need to address and then I think the other thing we need to do as a staff is to make sure that we’re kind of like the draft, sometimes who is the best guy available?”

For reference, Ferentz would rather see the early signing period in August and not December, with the visits rolling through during the month of June.

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