CEDAR RAPIDS — For Jack Heflin, it was simple. Really simple.
When Iowa showed interest in him as a graduate transfer, that’s where he was going. No doubt.
“I had two dreams growing up,” Heflin said. “Playing for the Iowa Hawkeyes and playing in the NFL.”
The defensive tackle is listed behind Daviyon Nixon at left defensive tackle on the depth chart going into Saturday’s season opener at Purdue. The Prosphetstown, Ill., native was an all-Mid-American Conference player for Northern Illinois last season and was selected as the team’s defensive player of the year by the Huskies coaching staff.
He brings massive size to the table at 6-foot-4 and 312 pounds. And the gratitude of being able to play at his dream school.
Everyone knows about another grad transfer in Coy Cronk, who is scheduled to be a starter at tackle offensively after coming in from Indiana. Heflin is less known but seeking to make just as big of impact.
“Going into Iowa City, I was welcomed with open arms by every single player in the locker room, by all the coaches,” he said. “I have gotten along great with everyone, and it’s just been the time of my life. I am just soaking it in (the best) I can because I don’t have much time to be here and enjoy the lifestyle here in Iowa City. It was a dream come true for me to become a Hawkeye. It’s kind of a surreal. I pinch myself every day.”
Julius Brents finding his game again
In a Zoom meeting with the media Tuesday, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz mentioned multiple guys on his team as being improved. One of those is Julius Brents.
The sophomore defensive back played two seasons ago as a true freshman but got into just one game last season because of injury. He was redshirted.
Brents is listed as No. 2 on the depth chart at left corner behind Matt Hankins, but that’s a fluid situation and the Indianapolis native is certain to see playing time somewhere. He credited talks he regularly had last year with defensive coordinator Phil Parker as a main reason for his improvement.
“This past year, when I was going through all my rehabilitation in the training room, Coach Parker was actually in there with me,” Brents said. “He had, like, surgery on his knee. We just kind of grew a little bit, had more dialogue outside of the DB room or places where we’d normally talk on the field. I gained a lot of knowledge from him. His viewpoint, how he sees things, his perspective, it’s helped me see a lot of things differently, especially out on the field. Coach is a great person. I’m just glad he was able to help me go in the right direction.”
Offensive line talk
Ferentz said he expects a rotation at the offensive guard position at Purdue. The starters are listed as Kyler Schott and Cole Banwart, but expect to see Mark Kallenberger, Justin Britt and Cody Ince to see time … if not start.
“We’ve got a handful of guys, and I’m not sure what the starting lineup is going to be,” Ferentz said. “I think, yeah, you’ll probably see some rotation going on because I think those guys are so close. There’s not really a reason not to play some of the guys some multiple reps.”
This and that
— Game captains will be Keith Duncan, Chauncey Golston, Nick Niemann, Tyler Linderbaum and Mekhi Sargent.
— Ferentz extended his best wishes to Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, who will miss Saturday’s game after being diagnosed Sunday with COVID-19.
“Very sorry he got hit by the virus and hoping that he has a very quick recovery,” Ferentz said. “It’s a reminder just how real this is. It’s everywhere and no one is immune from it. But certainly wish him the best as he moves forward.”
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