Iowa Football

New and views from Iowa football's Kids Day scrimmage

3 running backs, 4 wide receivers and Kirk Ferentz is going to wait on punter

Quarterback Nate Stanley throws a pass during a scrimmage at Kids Day with the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Quarterback Nate Stanley throws a pass during a scrimmage at Kids Day with the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — No, your football team didn’t win the Super Mega Bowl on Saturday. Context is important when it comes to August open scrimmages and college football.

Saturday’s Kids Day at Kinnick Stadium was the Hawkeyes' eighth practice of the year. Iowa’s goals for Saturday weren’t winning. It’s still seeing who can do what.

Yes, that was a lot of penalties and that really was a lot of false starts coming out of a relatively inexperienced offensive line. There were around 17 penalties called. At one point, walk-on offensive lineman Kyle Sorensen ended up doing burpees. Even the defensive coaches got frustrated.

“I’m not sure if we hit 20 penalties, but we were awfully close if we didn’t,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Ferentz wasn’t sweating that, either. It was the first time this camp that Iowa scrimmaged with officials. Ferentz described Iowa’s injury situation as maybe two “handfuls” of players out with something minor. As far as the Iowa football almanac goes, this has usually been practice 12.

“We’re usually not ready for prime time on the 12th workout and that certainly was the case today,” Ferentz said.

So, there’s the context. It’s still three weeks from the home opener against Northern Illinois. Let’s get to a few observations.


— Looks like sophomores Toren Young, Ivory Kelly-Martin and Mekhi Sargent will be the primary running backs for 2018. Freshmen Henry Geil and Samson Evans are in the learning stage. Redshirt freshman Kyshaun Bryan wasn’t invited to camp (programs can have 105 players in camp).

Kelly-Martin and Sargent, whose profiles have exploded with thin running back depth, got the most looks. Kelly-Martin rushed 12 times for 66 yards and scored a 4-yard TD in goal-line drills. Sargent rushed 12 times for 67 yards and a goal-line drill TD. He also had two of Iowa’s four explosive runs on Saturday (36 and 13 yards).

Sargent is brand new. The 5-10, 210-pounder joined the program in late July, coming in from Iowa Western, where he gained 1,449 yards and scored 14 touchdowns for the Reivers.

“This is really valuable for him, he’s a really eager learner,” Ferentz said. "... He knows what he doesn’t know and he’s working to get that down.”

— Linebacker is locked in at two spots. Junior Amani Jones will be the middle linebacker. Sophomore Nick Niemann will be one of the linebackers. Sophomore Barrington Wade didn’t practice, but he’s returning Monday and has made noise. Kristian Welch and Jack Hockaday remain in the hunt. Niemann’s position flexibility gives linebackers coach Seth Wallace some different options. True freshman Seth Benson took Wade’s spot and also progressed.

“Any one of those guys could surface,” Ferentz said.

— There’s been no separation at backup quarterback.

That race is between redshirt freshman Peyton Mansell and true freshman Spencer Petras, who took an inadvertent shot from defensive tackle Brady Reiff, who roughed up the No. 2 O-line.

“That’s an area we’re keenly interested in,” Ferentz said. “Somebody’s got to be ready to go. We’ll let those guys compete and, to me, it’s an even playing field right now.”

— Wide receiver depth is stuck on four — Nick Easley, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Brandon Smith and Kyle Groeneweg. Six receivers in the rotation is ideal.


Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

“I hope other guys join those four, but I think you’re accurate in saying four guys,” Ferentz said.

— Groeneweg is the front-runner for punt return. The resume might be dusty. In 2016, the former University of Sioux Falls Cougar recorded 23 punt returns for 304 yards (13.2 yards per return) to lead the North Sun Intercollegiate Conference and rank 16th in NCAA DII.

— There was a little punting Saturday. Between junior Colten Rastetter and sophomore Ryan Gersonde, Ferentz is waiting for a sign.

“I’ll probably reserve judgment until the next time we talk,” he said. “But I think we’ve seen improvement and better performance, but we haven’t seen the consistency. Saw some good things today, but that’s just one day. We’re going to let that one go for a while.”

Iowa Kids Day stats

RUSHING — Ivory Kelly-Martin 12 rushes for 66 yards and a TD; Toren Young 6-23, Mekhi Sargent 12-67 TD, Henry Geil 9-11, Samson Evans 9-24, Austin Kelly 1-3, Peyton Mansell 2-6, Ihmir Smith-Marsette 1-5

PASSING — Nate Stanley 10 of 19 for 70 yards; Peyton Mansell 3-11-18, Spencer Petras 5-12-54

RECEIVING — Brady Ross 2-13, Kelly-Martin 1-5, Smith-Marsette 2-17, Noah Fant 3-17, Young 1-17, Sargent 2-17, Drew Cook 2-19, Joe Ludwig 1-8, Nick Easley 1-3, Max Cooper 1-5, Nico Ragaini 1-11, Shaun Beyer 1-12

FIELD GOALS — Miguel Recinos 4 of 6 (Makes: 40 RH, 37 RH, 37 mid, 50 LH, one blocked); Caleb Shudak 4 of 5 (Makes: 32 LH, 50 RH, 37 LH, 50 LH); Keith Duncan 3 of 5 (Makes: 46 LH, 35 RH, 37 LH)



QB — Nate Stanley; RB — Ivory Kelly-Martin/Toren Young; FB — Brady Ross; TE1 — Noah Fant; TE2 — T.J. Hockenson; TE3 — Nate Wieting; WR1-2 — Brandon Smith, Nick Easley; WR3 — Ihmir Smith-Marsette; WR4 — Kyle Groeneweg; LT — Alaric Jackson; LG — Ross Reynolds; C — Keegan Render; RG — Cole Banwart; RT — Tristan Wirfs


LDE — Anthony Nelson; LDT — Matt Nelson; RDT — Sam Brincks; RDE — Parker Hesse; OLB — Nick Niemann; WLB — Kristian Welch; MLB — Amani Jones; LCB — Matt Hankins; RCB — Michael Ojemudia; SS — Amani Hooker; FS — Jake Gervase

OTHERS: DT — Cedrick Lattimore; OLB — Barrington Wade, Seth Benson; WLB — Djimon Colbert; FS — Geno Stone

NICKEL PACKAGE: CB Josh Turner replaces MLB Amani Jones, and CB Matt Hankins covers the slot. Anthony Nelson stays at LDE, Chauncey Golston plays LDT, Parker Hesse shifts to RDT and A.J. Epenesa plays RDE.

HAIL MARY DEFENSE: LDE — Anthony Nelson; NG — Parker Hesse; RDE — A.J. Epenesa; MIDDLE — Michael Ojemudia, Josh Turner, Julius Brents, Matt Hankins; DEEP — Geno Stone, Amani Hooker, Jake Gervase


QB — Peyton Mansell; RB — Mekhi Sargent; FB — Austin Kelly; TE1 — Drew Cook; TE2 — Shaun Beyer; WR — Max Cooper, Nico Ragaini; WR3 — Dominique Dafney; LT — Mark Kallenberger; LG — Landan Paulsen; C — Levi Duwa; RG — Levi Paulsen; RT — Dalton Ferguson

OTHERS: QB — Spencer Petras; WR — Henry Marchese; G — Jake Newborg


LDE — Chauncey Golston; LDT — Cedrick Lattimore; RDT — Brady Reiff; RDE — A.J. Epenesa; MLB — Jack Hockaday; WLB — Djimon Colbert; OLB — Barrington Wade; LCB — Julius Brents; RCB — Josh Turner; FS — John Milani; SS — Geno Stone

OTHERS: DT — Tyler Linderbaum, Garret Jansen; DE — Brandon Simon; WLB — Logan Klemp; MLB — Dillon Doyle; CB — Trey Creamer, D.J. Johnson



QB — Connor Kapisak; RB — Henry Geil, Samson Evans; FB — Joe Ludwig; TE — Bryce Schulte; WR — Drew Thomas, Tyrone Tracy, Blair Brooks; T — Jack Plumb, Kyle Sorensen, Luke Empen; G — Matt Fagan, Trey Winston; C — Jeff Jenkins


DE — John Waggoner, Jack Kallenberger, Nathan Nelson; DT — Daviyon Nixon, Noah Shannon, Austin Schulte; LB — Monte Pottebaum; CB — Terry Roberts; S — Dallas Craddieth, Riley Moss, Kaevon Merriweather, Jack Koerner

l Comments: (319) 398-8256;

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.


Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.