116 3rd St SE
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IOWA CITY — Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has added a title to an assistant coach's job description once in his 19 seasons. That came in 2015, when he named Brian Ferentz the run game coordinator in addition to offensive line coach.
Now the count is up to two.
Kirk Ferentz announced a pair of coaching moves Wednesday. Linebackers coach Seth Wallace has been promoted to assistant defensive coordinator. Also, Kevin Spencer has been hired as a quality control assistant working specifically with special teams.
Wallace's day-to-day job duties won't change. In addition to linebackers, Wallace also coaches punt team. He'll also continue with that through this season.
Spencer, 63, was named the NFL's special teams coach of the year with Pittsburgh in 2003. He began his career alongside Ferentz on the Cleveland Browns staff in 1991.
Ferentz felt the quality control assistant for special teams was a void on the staff and months ago he talked with athletics director Gary Barta about making this hire.
Tight ends coach LeVar Woods will be in his first season as special teams coordinator, a role he'll likely be shifted to full-time after schools are allowed to hire a 10th assistant coach in January, Ferentz said.
'Initially, I was looking for a little younger guy, someone maybe coming up the ladder a little bit,' Ferentz said. 'We worked together for three years in Cleveland. I have tremendous respect for him as a person and professional. ... Kevin is a wealth of knowledge special teams-wise. He's going to be a great resource for LeVar, as LeVar transitions into his new role.'
Ferentz said Wallace's promotion was a reward for a job well done. He added that Wallace isn't the heir to Phil Parker's position as defensive coordinator and he's not pushing Parker out the door (Iowa has fielded top 25 defenses in each of the last four seasons).
'They've worked really well together,' Ferentz said. 'I think Phil would tell you he really relies on and trusts Seth's judgment. Not that he doesn't rely on everyone else, but Seth has been a coordinator (three seasons at Valdosta, Ga., State). He's gone through that mental process.'
— Ferentz formally acknowledged that Iowa has added former Nevada running back James Butler to the team. The move isn't totally finalized. Butler is a graduate transfer and Iowa is waiting on his final graduate transcripts.
Still, Ferentz talked openly about getting the 5-9, 210-pounder into the program as soon as possible. When Butler starred at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, Ill., Iowa recruited him. Those connections led to the move.
As far as how Butler — who rushed for more than 3,000 yards and 30 TDs at Nevada — will be used, Ferentz said, 'We'll let that all play out.'
Of course, Iowa returns senior running back Akrum Wadley, who rushed for 1,081 yards last season and who finished seventh in the Big Ten last season with 6.8 yards from scrimmage per rush and reception.
When Ferentz spoke with Wadley about Butler, he said, 'Our idea is to help you, actually. Our plans aren't going to change for him. As long as he's able to go, he's going to be going.'
'My first obligation is to try to make our team better,' Ferentz said. '... From everything I've heard about James, he's going to bring a maturity that's going to make us stronger.'
This probably means Iowa won't feed one back 25 carries a game. Probably.
— No news on the QB race between sophomore Nathan Stanley and junior Tyler Wiegers. That will play out in camp.
'I don't know who's going to be playing quarterback, but I do know we're going to be inexperienced at the position,' Ferentz said. 'I have no reason to think whoever emerges in August won't do a good job. If it's not him, it may be the next guy. We're going to keep an open mind. At some point, we'll have to make a decision, but right now, we're going into it open-minded.'
— Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg (foot) and defensive tackle Nathan Bazata (foot) are still being throttled down during summer conditioning workouts. Defensive end Matt Nelson (lower leg) missed most of spring. Ferentz said he's 'doing well.'
— Can true freshman Peyton Mansell make some waves in the QB race? Ferentz didn't completely dismiss the idea. Not completely.
'We've got an open mind at every position right now,' Ferentz said. 'If that happens, it happens. I don't know if it's realistic, but we'll let that play itself out on the field.'
Ferentz said 'it would be difficult' for a true freshman to win the starting QB job, but 'not impossible.'
— Freshman defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon will not play for Iowa this season, Ferentz confirmed. According to HawkeyeReport.com, the Wisconsin native will play at Iowa Western Community College this season. As to whether Nixon could be on campus for spring semester in January, Ferentz couldn't comment per NCAA rules.
— For the second time in his 19 seasons, Iowa will open camp at the end of July.
Ferentz said Iowa could've started camp earlier, per NCAA rules, but he instead opted to give his players a little bit longer summer.
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