116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
No. 22 ...
Sean Welsh has yet to play a down for the Hawkeyes, and here is the 6-3, 285-pounder listed as No. 22 in a top 45 Hawkeyes countdown. That happened because 1) Welsh started spring as the No. 1 left guard and 2) he was anointed one of the top five Iowa O-linemen at the end of spring.
'I think Sean Welsh has risen above right now,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said after spring practice wrapped. 'He's clearly our fifth guy, but he also has ground to make up. I think he did that this spring. We watched him improve during the course of spring. When you do something for 15 days, pictures become more clear or clearly cloudy. I think he's on the right path. I think he'll make it. He'll have work to do by the end of August, but he's doing well.”
Competitive recruiting ...
Coming out of Springboro (Ohio) High School, Welsh had 16 offers, including West Virginia, Miami (Fla.) and Kentucky. Iowa put a time limit on his offer and he bought in, despite a late bid from UK.
It was a Friday in July 2012. That was the deadline for Welsh to commit to the Hawkeyes.
'Coach [Brian] Ferentz told me that they were heading toward wrapping up their recruiting and I had until today to get my spot and after that it was open game on the offensive line,” Welsh told HawkeyeReport.com. 'It might have pushed me along a little bit, but I knew Iowa was the place for me.”
Welsh said the Hawkeyes reputation in the Big Ten along with O-line Brian Ferentz were what sealed the deal.
'Coach Brian Ferentz has been my guy from the beginning. I have a great relationship with him and that was a big selling point that he would be my position coach,” Welsh said. 'Once Iowa offered they went right to the top of my list of schools. I grew up watching Big Ten Football and I have seen what Iowa is all about, especially on the offensive line. After taking it all in, I knew it was the right decision.”
Left guard rotation, perhaps ...
This spring, Brian Ferentz talked about the rotation that happened at right guard in 2013. Junior Jordan Walsh split time with senior Andrew Donnal. Ferentz believes the payoff this year will be that Iowa has grown two starters (Walsh at right guard; Donnal at right tackle) from that one spot.
At the beginning of spring, he said that could be the case at left guard in 2014.
'Where we're really trying to figure something out is probably at that left guard position,” Brian Ferentz said. 'I think what will happen is you saw last year. If we could play six guys, if we could play seven guys, if we feel like we have that kind of depth, we'll play those guys because we feel like that's very good for our football team, not just for the guys or for the unit, but for the team to have that kind of depth, be gaining that kind of experience. If we can do that again, we'd love to do that.”
Outlook ... During recruiting, Welsh had a few pretty solid endorsements and all pointed toward a career trajectory on the inside of the O-line. (That appears to be the future, but in the spring game, Welsh played left tackle in the fourth quarter. That was probably more a move to boost tackle depth.)
'Probably an inside guy,” said Eric Johnson, Iowa's former recruiting coordinator. 'A very physical-type kid. Strong, tough, in the mold of a lot of the guys who made us successful.”
And Rivals.com's midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt: 'We project him as a guard. He could play center if the need is there. He's a very strong guy. He's the big, ugly kind. He's going to battle with defensive tackles. His jersey is going to be dirty and muddy and bloody by the end of the day. He's an interior bruiser.”
There are (and were) numerous positives. Still, Welsh will be a redshirt freshman starter (perhaps part of a rotation) at left guard in the Big Ten this fall. That, of course comes with a learning curve.
'Sean's handled himself very well since he stepped on campus, really going back to the recruiting process,” Brian Ferentz said. 'He acts like one of our type of guys. He plays like one of our type of guys. What he needs to improve on is playing. He hasn't played very much. That's not his fault, but he needs to get more experience and continue to grow, and the only way to do that is to play. That's what he needs to do right now. That's what's happening in the spring. That's what will happen in the fall. Obviously, he needs to continue to compete as well. We're not ready to anoint anyone.”
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