Iowa Football

Iowa Hawkeyes line up for their pro day snapshot

After missing most of 2017, tackle duo Ike Boettger and Boone Myers are ready to run into the NFL

(from left) Iowa offensive linemen Ike Boettger (75), Sean Welsh (79), James Daniels (78), Keegan Render (69) and Boone Myers (52) pose for a photo during Iowa Football Media Day in Iowa City on Saturday, August 5, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
(from left) Iowa offensive linemen Ike Boettger (75), Sean Welsh (79), James Daniels (78), Keegan Render (69) and Boone Myers (52) pose for a photo during Iowa Football Media Day in Iowa City on Saturday, August 5, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The college football chase for a paying gig went to the next stage Monday at the University of Iowa.

The Hawkeyes held their pro day with 31 of the 32 NFL teams in attendance at the Hansen Performance Center. You know who Iowa’s big-ticket items are on NFL shopping lists.

Cornerback Josh Jackson, offensive linemen James Daniels and Sean Welsh, running back Akrum Wadley and linebacker Josey Jewell started their pushes to a paycheck in Indianapolis, Ind., at the NFL combine last month.

Jewell, a consensus all-American, took on some baggage when he ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the combine. The Decorah native ran a 4.68 on Monday.

“A lot of people outside put a lot of stress on the 40,” Jewell said. “That’s totally fine, it’s how fast you can run in a straight line. I don’t know how much I’ve ever been asked to do that on a football field.”

Also at the combine, Jewell turned in a 6.80-second 3-cone drill, designed to get a read on short-area quickness. Jewell’s number is well above average.

“That’s change of direction, that’s what you’re going to do as a linebacker,” Jewell said. “You’re going to be in the box. You’re going to need quick changes of direction, move around linemen and catch running backs.”

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According to HawkeyeReport.com, Jackson ran 4.52 and 4.54 40 times, improving on the 4.56 he ran at the combine. Jackson, who’s also picked up an endorsement deal with Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Company, wasn’t available for interviews on Monday. Daniels didn’t work out Monday. He put up numbers at the combine and he’s riding a nice, positive wave into the final month before the draft.

Daniels is having fun. He was asked if he fielded any of those weird questions that you occasionally hear about.

“I did an informal interview and the entire interview, this guy had 12 cards,” Daniels said. “He’d show me the cards and then shuffle them around and flip them over. I had to figure out which card was what at the end of the interview.”

Daniels said he got more than half of the cards right.

So, Iowa’s combine players have been out of the blocks and running for cash. There are many more Hawkeyes in this chase.

Outside linebacker Ben Niemann was probably Iowa’s biggest combine snub. He was a three-year starter and productive player. He also ran a 4.60 40 on Monday. The NFL knew who he was and know it really knows.

“It is what it is,” Niemann said of the combine snub. “I use it as a chip on my shoulder. I would’ve loved to have been there and had the opportunity to showcase myself, but it’s not the reality, so I did the best that I could today.”

Offensive tackles Boone Myers and Ike Boettger were Iowa’s starters at the tackle positions in 2015 and 2016. Collectively, they had 46 starts between them during their Iowa career.

And then their senior year happened. Boettger’s season was over after week 2 at Iowa State. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon and was lost for the year.

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Boettger wasn’t done with the game. He probably was Monday’s most motivated pro day participant. He spent six months of intensive rehab to be able to run the 40 Monday. Considering that doctors are wary about allowing Achilles rehabbers to wear shoes with heels until weeks eight to 12, Boettger’s 5.3 40-yard dash on Monday is pretty fantastic.

“This is the only day that’s been on my calendar,” said Boettger, who estimated that he was about 80 percent healthy. “When I didn’t get the invite to the combine, I really focused on today.”

Myers suffered an ankle injury early in August camp and never rebounded. This wound up being an ankle surgery late in the season. Myers tried to do what he could, playing three games before calling it a season after Michigan State on Sept. 30.

Where Boettger’s injury was cut and dry, Myers fought a long battle to stay on the field.

“I wasn’t getting any better and my play was deteriorating a little bit. My ankle just wasn’t holding up,” Myers said. “It was tough. I talked with my parents and coaches. Pretty much my body made the decision for me.“

Myers is 100 percent now and ready to run.

Long snapper Tyler Kluver is going to give this NFL thing a shot. He’s 5-10, 220. He knows size is going to be his hill to climb, but he’s not discouraged. He’s done his homework on what teams need a long snapper. And, sure, if a few guys with a lot of years in the league would like to retire, that wouldn’t hurt Kluver’s quest.

“I just need one team to want a 5-10 long snapper,” Kluver said. “That’s about it. They’re going to see you’re 5-10, so you’re going to have to show them you can play special teams. I did the change of direction well, hit 22 (reps of 225 pounds) on the bench. ... The size doesn’t help. The average NFL long snapper is 6-3, 245-250.”

He did his homework. He’s also put on 20 pounds since the bowl game, going from 215 to 235.

Fullback Drake Kulick also has done his homework. Not every team wants a fullback, but Kulick said there are several fullback positions open and as many as 10 teams don’t have one on their roster.

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Kulick was a walk-on from Muscatine with the Hawkeyes, so he was a long shot to make an impact at Iowa. He likes his chances with the NFL.

“I don’t feel like I’m lesser than any of the guys I’ll be competing against for a job,” Kulick said. “That’s why I don’t feel like I’m necessarily an underdog.”

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

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