Iowa Football

Alaric Jackson, Cedrick Lattimore suspended for Iowa's season opener

Iowa: Violation of team policy and rules

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) tries to get past offensive lineman Alaric Jackson (77) during Kids’ Day at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, August 12, 2017. Iowa announced Wednesday the suspensions of Jackson and defensive tackle Cedrick Lattimore. They’ll miss Iowa’s home opener against Northern Illinois. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) tries to get past offensive lineman Alaric Jackson (77) during Kids’ Day at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, August 12, 2017. Iowa announced Wednesday the suspensions of Jackson and defensive tackle Cedrick Lattimore. They’ll miss Iowa’s home opener against Northern Illinois. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Iowa football announced Wednesday the suspensions of Alaric Jackson and Cedrick Lattimore for violation of team policy and rules.

The two will sit out the Hawkeyes’ home opener on Sept. 1 game against Northern Illinois.

Jackson, a sophomore, started 12 games last season at left offensive tackle. Lattimore, a 6-3, 295-pound junior, started six games at defensive tackle last season. Both Detroit, Mich., natives were listed as starters at their respective positions when the Hawkeyes’ fall camp opened last Friday.

The team was told about the suspensions Wednesday morning.

“As a coach one of the most important decisions is to hold student-athletes accountable,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz in a statement. “It is painful for the players and the team to impose a suspension, but we have high standards and there is an expectation all players abide by our rules.”

According to the release, the infractions aren’t legal matters. Violation of team policy or rules can include academic performance, attendance, timeliness, behavior, effort and engagement.

The issues surfaced in late spring and both players were given guidelines to meet and milestones to achieve over the past 10 weeks.

“Their response has been excellent, and I am very pleased with how they are meeting our expectations,” said Ferentz.

Wednesday's announcement means four Hawkeyes will not participate in the season-opening game against Northern Illinois. Defensive lineman Brady Reiff and offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs were previously given one-game suspensions for alcohol-related violations.

Jackson, a 6-7, 320-pounder, is now serving his second suspension. On Dec. 20 before the Pinstripe Bowl, Jackson was suspended for a violation of team policy, snapping a streak of 12 starts in his first season in the lineup.

The reason for the violation was never revealed, but it was a team and not legal matter.

“He’s done a good job in the interim,” Ferentz said when the first suspension was announced in December. “He’s worked hard so far to meet the goals we’ve put in front of him. As long as he continues to do that, he’ll be with the team but not dressed for the ballgame.”

Jackson, who was named a freshman all-American by the Football Writers Association of America in January, was reinstated for spring practice.

Then, Ferentz said, “We’ve got a few things that he’ll have to check off the list here as we go along, but, hopefully, it’s straight ahead.”

This news comes on top of Wirfs’ one-game suspension after an OWI on a moped earlier this summer. Now for the opener against Northern Illinois and defensive end Sutton Smith, Iowa will be starting two new tackles. Smith, a 6-1, 237-pounder, tied for the nation’s lead in 2017 with 14.0 sacks.

Junior Levi Paulsen played right tackle in the Pinstripe Bowl, but suffered an injury during spring practice and slipped on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman Mark Kallenberger is likely the primary backup at tackle and a real possibility for his first career start on Sept. 1.

Iowa’s offensive line for the opener? Probably Paulsen and Kallenberger at tackles, with senior Dalton Ferguson perhaps getting some time. Guards probably will be Ross Reynolds and Cole Banwart with senior Keegan Render at center.

Coming out of spring, Ferentz said he expected the O-line, and the offense, to improve in 2018.

“I’m counting on our offensive line to take a big step,” Ferentz said. “We’re losing two really good players for sure, but we’ve got a lot of guys coming back now who are going to be more in the flow of things and kind of ties in with our staff. We were basically a new offensive staff last year starting in February, mid-February, by the time we got everybody hired and in place. I’m really excited. I think we have the potential to take a big step in that whole enterprise. I think improvement up front will get us there. And can’t guarantee it, but I’m confident that it’s going to happen.”

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

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