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Iowa football starts spring practices short-handed at some positions
With ‘close to a dozen’ surgeries and ‘10 or dozen’ soft-tissue injuries, Hawkeyes start spring thin
IOWA CITY — As a former college defensive coordinator visited Iowa on Monday, he talked to Kirk Ferentz “about missing the development” that comes with spring football.
“He said you got to be excited about spring ball starting, having a chance to see guys,” said Ferentz, who will embark on his 25th season as Iowa head coach in 2023. “He fully gets it.”
The precious development time — 15 spring practices — began for many Hawkeyes on Wednesday, but not for all of them. Several Iowa players are expected to miss part or all of spring practices because of injuries.
Ferentz said the number of surgeries players have undergone since the end of the season is “close to a dozen.”
“Under a dozen, but approaching that number,” Ferentz said.
Then there are another “10 or dozen soft-tissue issues that we’re dealing with” as well, he said.
The injuries, which are not unprecedented going into spring practices, have occurred across several position groups.
Defensive lineman Noah Shannon had been playing through a shoulder injury since Iowa’s Sept. 10 loss to Iowa State before having surgery in January.
Two of Iowa’s highest-profile transfer portal additions — quarterback Cade McNamara and tight end Erick All Jr., both from Michigan — are recovering from knee and back surgeries, respectively, from the fall.
McNamara is “not full throttle” yet, Ferentz said, and is “probably a month-and-a-half, two months” from being “full speed.”
“He's been throwing some individual stuff, throwing on his own,” Ferentz said. “He's able to do some seven-on-seven right now.”
All went “full speed” in Wednesday’s practice and is expected to “be out there all spring,” but he may have some workload limitations.
“We’ll be smart about how much he works, not to overdo it right now,” Ferentz said.
All has “really progressed well,” Ferentz said, going back to December.
“First positive thing, he went skating,” Ferentz said. “I think it was in Cincinnati still.”
Wide receivers Seth Anderson and Jacob Bostick are recovering from injuries as well.
Bostick “for sure” will miss spring practices, Ferentz said, while Anderson’s “soft tissue” injury has a less certain timetable.
Ferentz is “not overly optimistic” about Anderson, though.
“I don't know if we'll get him back on the field or not,” Ferentz said. “Keeping are fingers crossed.”
Ferentz specifically pointed to the offensive line as an area where Iowa is “a little short” going into spring practices.
“Hopefully we'll get a couple guys back here next week or the week after,” Ferentz said. “That will enable us to ramp things up a little bit more.”
Gennings Dunker is among the offensive linemen whom Ferentz is hopeful could return “next week or the week after.”
As short-handed as the line is, having enough healthy players to conduct practice does not seem to be an issue.
“We got more than enough if we can keep guys on the field,” Ferentz said.
The offensive line injury situation could be especially important considering the need for development there. Fewer available players means fewer developmental opportunities for a position group that has struggled over the last two seasons.
“It's frustrating when guys can't practice because that's really where you get better, especially up front on both sides of the ball,” Ferentz said. “Probably the hardest place to play physically. Takes a little bit more maturity.”
Aside from Mason Richman being an honorable mention, no Iowa players earned all-Big Ten honors after the 2022 season.
The year before, Tyler Linderbaum was first-team all-Big Ten and Kyler Schott was second-team by coaches and third-team by media.
“I'd be misleading if I said the last two years have been the standard we want or hope for,” Ferentz said. “We've had individuals play well, but for that collective, what we're looking for, we're not there.”