The Iowa Football program will be looking to bounce back from a miserable 4-8 campaign, highlighted by losses to in-state rival Iowa State and lowly Central Michigan. Every college footbal program goes through stages of turnover in the offseason, and the Hawkeyes aren’t an exception. New additions, more experience, and players returning from injury should boost Iowa Football’s chances of returning to the Bowl Season. Here a list of five potential impact newcomers for the upcoming season.
It’s hard to call Canzeri a newcomer, since he was Iowa’s starting tailback going into spring practice a season ago. Unfortunately, the redshirt sophomore tore his ACL on the second day of spring practice last year, requiring him to take a redshirt season. During his freshman year he saw action in seven games and started once; recording 31 rushes for 114 yards to go along with 6 receptions for 28 yards and one score. Canzeri isn’t a workhouse, but his game-changing speed could potentially open up the Hawkeye offense. The Troy, New York native’s versatility is a big plus due to his involvement in the passing game. Health is always a major factor, but Canzeri could be the spark the Hawkeye offense needs if he stays healthy.
Smith was limited to a special teams role his freshman season. Although, he was one of seven true freshman to see playing time durin the 2012 campaign. Iowa Football’s coaching staff is high on the true sophomore, penciling him in as a starter after spring practice. Like Canzeri, Smith has outstanding speed and offensive coordinator Greg Davis hasn’t been shy about his need for speed on the outside. The Ontario native runs a 4.4 40 yard dash and possesses ideal size with his 6-foot-2 frame. There will be some growing pains due to Smith’s inexperience – just 3 receptions for 31 yards last year. But the potential is there. Keep an eye on him.
I can’t talk about Iowa Football without having at least one offensive line reference. Walsh was one of Ferentz’s prized recruits in the 2011 class. He and Blythe headlined a solid recruiting class and the could headline a strong offensive line in 2013. Walsh is currently the second string right guard behing Andew Donnal, but don’t be surprised if he moves to the left side. Senior Conor Boffeli is slotted in at the starting left guard position, but he’s been the frontrunner for starting positions before, only to lose them in fall camp or the first month of the season. Walsh is dominant run blocker and he could make Iowa’s rushing attack more potent. He’ll be looking to take either of the starting guard spots during fall camp.
McMinn has a chance to be apart of the defensive line rotation next year. He saw limited action is six games last season before he was forced to miss the last five with an injury. The redshirt sophomore added some much needed weight to his 6-foot-7 frame, now weighing in at 260 pounds. He’s fairly athletic for a defensive end, showing a good burst off the ball and deceptive speed with his 4.6 40 time. McMinn’s length allows him to shed blocks and deflect passes at the line of scrimmage. His presence could allow senior Dominic Alvis to move inside on passing situations, which will enable the Hawkeyes to put more pressure on the quarterback – something the Hawkeye defense desperately needs.
This last player may come as a surprised to some Hawkeye fans. Touted safety Nico Law figured to step into the starting strong safety role after splitting time at that position last season. But something must have happened at spring practice. Lowdermilk is now listed as the co-starter at strong safety, but he’s ahead of Law on the depth chart. This is an interesting development because nobody truly expected Lowdermilk to be competing for a starting job. He comes from Carrollton high school, which has a well-known football program in the state of Ohio. Lowdermilk wasn’t a high profiled recruit coming out of high school, the type of prospect Ferentz loves. He’s a smart player and a sure tackler with average athleticism. The redshirt sophomore isn’t a ball hawk but he does have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He’ll continue his intense position battle with Nico Law during fall camp.
Several newcomers will get their shot to make an impact on the Iowa Football roster durin the upcoming season. Ferentz and his staff have a lot of work to do in order to turn things around, hopefully these five guys will help.