Iowa Football: 5 Possible Spring Positions Switches for the Hawkeyes
The Iowa Hawkeyes and head coach Kirk Ferentz are known for developing players at different positions than those at which they started.
For example, Marvin McNutt came to Iowa as a quarterback. He left as the Hawks' all-time leading receiver.
Dallas Clark came to Iowa as a walk-on linebacker. He left as a Mackey Award-winning tight end. Robert Gallery came in as an oversized tight end and left as an All-American left tackle.
As Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported, the position changes for the 2013 Hawks have already begun.
This article will explore other possible position changes that could take place before spring practices end.
The thinking behind the position changes includes the teams' needs, how stocked the position group is and whether the player in question anatomically fits the part.
Wide Receiver Don Shumpert to Safety
Shumpert began last year as the No. 3 receiver, but a slew of drops led to almost everybody passing him on the depth chart.
As "almost everybody" will return in 2013, Shumpert will either end his career as a special teamer or move to safety where he will have an opportunity to crack the two-deep.
He also has a redshirt available to him. In effect, he could skip next season and vie for the starting free safety spot in 2014.
It's a shame. He is listed as 6'3", 190 pounds, and Scout described him as "a straight line runner [who] does not have any moves side to side." In other words, he is an ideal fit for former offensive coordinator (OC) Ken O'Keefe's offense.
However, he is just not the right guy for current OC Greg Davis.
Cornerback Torrey Campbell to Wide Receiver
Campbell came to Iowa as an athlete, though he was pegged to wind up at cornerback or running back.
He was put on the defensive side of the ball and redshirted his first year on campus. Meanwhile, fellow true freshman cornerback Jordan Lomax saw playing time and would have had a good shot at being the third corner last year if an injury didn't derail his season.
In 2012, though Campbell was available, he didn't receive any playing time and was passed on the depth chart by true freshmen Kevin Buford and Sean Draper.
With Lomax, Buford, Draper and returning starter B.J. Lowery all probably ahead of him in the pecking order, Lomax's chances at earning a starting cornerback spot seem slim.
On the other hand, he is listed at 5'11", 183 pounds. If he can adjust to a new position, he looks like an ideal Greg Davis receiver.
This is something that wouldn't have flown in the previous offensive regime, but as noted, the Hawkeyes offense is going in a new direction.
Tight End Ray Hamilton to Defensive End
Hamilton came to Iowa as a 4-star prospect, and none of the recruiting sites had him as anything but a tight end.
He played as a true freshman and began 2012 well. However, by midseason, he got passed on the depth chart by two redshirt freshmen.
He will have a chance to climb back up the depth chart this spring; however, his best bet might be a move to defensive end where the Hawks are desperate for playmakers.
With a listed height and weight of 6'5", 248 pounds, he physically looks the part.
He could be Iowa's best position switch since Marvin McNutt if he can get used to the move.
Guard Austin Blythe to Center
This move wouldn't be a surprise. In fact, before the 2012 season began, Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette noted,
Iowa freshman Austin Blythe has moved into a starting role this spring at right guard, but his future might be at center.
He began last season as the starting right guard but lost the job due to minor injuries and inconsistent play. However, he regained the role when two Hawkeyes offensive linemen went down for the season.
In the end, he started nine games. He wasn't especially impressive, but as a redshirt freshman, he's got a lot of room to grow.
His primary competition for the starting center spot in 2013 will be senior Conor Boffeli.
If Blythe doesn't win the starting job, look for him to be a first-string guard as well as the second-string center.
Running Back Damon Bullock to Hybrid Wide Receiver
As Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette detailed, Bullock came to Iowa as a running back. He then moved to receiver and played as a true freshman before transfers forced him back to running back.
The idea that the coaches will make him into a hybrid receiver-running back—what Pat Harty of HawkCentral referred to as a "wingback"—requires a leap of faith on a number of levels.
Firstly, Iowa currently has three backs who have started at least one game in their careers: juniors Bullock and Mark Weisman along with sophomore Jordan Canzeri. Also, redshirt freshman Barkley Hill is in the mix.
If the Hawks hold on to all of their current running backs, they would have a superabundance at the position come August. Given AIRBHG, this is in no way a given.
Secondly, the Iowa offensive braintrust has to get creative.
As I recently posited, Kirk Ferentz has always run a team of specialization. In other words, every position has a role to play and that position shouldn't go beyond its role.
On the other hand, the hybrid-receiver position is Urban Meyer-esque in its palpable disdain for specialization.
As active as AIRBHG has been lately, this second leap of faith is more of a stretch than the first.