College football: Hawkeyes sense change

Fall camp presents a challenging opportunity for Kirk Ferentz and staff.

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Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 12:00 am

IOWA CITY -- Kirk Ferentz formally began the 2012 Iowa football job fair on Monday afternoon before 15 television cameras and about 100 media members in the Feller Club Room.

"Everything is open right now," Ferentz said. "Everybody has an opportunity."

Welcome to Chapter 1 of an Iowa football story where very little is certain. A roster with just seven seniors listed on a preseason depth chart essentially written in pencil is the clearest indication that the 2012 Iowa Hawkeyes are a team in turnover. Besides new offensive and defensive coordinators (Greg Davis and Phil Parker, respectively), Iowa is facing its lowest number of returning starters of the Ferentz era. And suspended senior safety Collin Sleeper is on the shelf for at least two games for multiple violations of team rules.

Iowa's sports information department has produced a preseason depth chart for the 2012 Hawkeyes. But it's best used as only a roster reference manual for a program facing its greatest transition season in 14 seasons.

What will the 2012 Hawkeyes look like by the Sept. 29 Big Ten opener with Minnesota? Right now, your guess is as good as the Iowa coaching staff's.

"The depth chart that you received last week can probably be tossed in the trash by the end of September," said Ferentz, the new dean of Big Ten coaches with 13 years under his belt at Iowa. "We have a lot of moving pieces."

Iowa, a disappointing 7-6 in 2011, has a month to put the pieces together before its challenging Sept. 1 season opener against Northern Illinois at Chicago's Soldier Field. The Huskies won 11 games last autumn and achieved something the Hawkeyes couldn't: Win a bowl game.

"We have a chance to be a good football team, but so much will depend on what happens between now and the end of September," Ferentz said.

First things first, Iowa has likely more than a dozen starting jobs to fill. The roster-wide open casting call has begun.

A look at some major positions available in the Hawkeyes' Jobs Classifieds:


Job Requirements: Preferred candidate will be a physical runner able to produce about 100 yards of rushing offense per game, be effective in short-yardage run situations against the Big Ten's best run defenses and produce in some of the league's most intimidating road venues (see Michigan State on Oct. 13 and Michigan's Big House on Nov. 17). Candidates must be able to stay academically eligible and adhere to team rules and philosophy or face suspension, dismissal from team, diminished playing time or self-mandated transfer (see departed Marcus Coker, De'Andre Johnson, Brandon Wegher, Jewel Hampton, Adam Robinson, Mika'il McCall).

Leading candidates interviewing: sophomore Damon Bullock, junior Brad Rogers, freshman Barkley Hill, freshman Greg Garmon.

Applicants must also not be dissuaded by Iowa's recent rash of troubles filling position and not believe in the Curse of Shonn Greene.

"I wouldn't say it was a jinx," Rogers said. "People just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You've just got to move on. ... A couple of people made wrong decisions, and you've just got to live with it."

Said Bullock, currently No. 1 on the depth chart: "I don't believe in curses. That's not what we're worried about right now. Along the way people made bad decisions. We're just trying to move on.

"... Our running back group has a lot of talent. We compete every day, at the same time, we help each other out. Going into the season, we're all trying to come together. Whenever somebody makes a play, we all (make a play). It's not an individual person."


Job Requirements: Preferred candidate need not be second coming of all-Big Ten and Iowa career receiving leader Marvin McNutt, but must be able to stretch the field and compliment go-to split end Keenan Davis (50 receptions, 713 yards, four touchdowns in 2011).

Leading candidates interviewing: Sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley, senior Steven Staggs.

"I'm a top-two receiver now," a confident Martin-Manley said. "I can line up wide and I can line up in the slot. I'm a wide receiver. At the end of the day, I can do it all."


Job Requirements: Preferred candidate will be able to regularly pin opposing offenses inside their own 20-yard line and average 40 yards per punt, though matching 2011 production of graduated Eric Guthrie (41.2 yards per punt, six kicks of 50-plus yards) not required.

Leading candidates interviewing: Senior John Wienke, sophomore Jonny Mullings, freshman Connor Kornbrath.

"It's a critical area of focus right now," Ferentz said.


Job Requirements: An ability to contain/eliminate big play ability of opposing passing games. Preferred candidate must possess motor and work ethic of departed Jordan Bernstine.

Leading candidates interviewing: Sophomore Nico Law, senior Tom Donatell, senior Collin Sleeper (suspended at least two games to start season).


Job Requirements: A superior ability to stop the run, put heat on opposing passers and be a drive killer. Preferred candidate will play in mold of departed Broderick Binns (60 tackles, 5 sacks in 2011).

Leading candidates interviewing: Junior Dominic Alvis, redshirt freshman Melvin Spears.


Job Requirements: An ability to disable opponents' drives with sacks and big third down stops. Preferred candidate will look to departed Mike Daniels (67 tackles, nine sacks for 53 yards in 2011) as production model and excel on one of the Big Ten's youngest defensive lines, which unit coach Reese Morgan says could rotate 6-8 men.

Leading candidates interviewing: Sophomore Carl Davis, sophomore Darian Cooper, sophomore Mike Hardy.

"I think we're going to be a fine defensive line if we work hard out here every single day and keep working hard," Davis said.

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