Iowa Football: 5 Young Players Who Could Become Legends
With one of the most decorated classes in Iowa football history graduating after last season, the theme surrounding the Hawkeye football program this year will be youth and inexperience.
However, despite their lack of experience, this group of Hawkeyes isn't short on talent, as many of the underclassmen proved last season.
The last two Iowa recruiting classes have been two of the best in school history, and if that talent can live up to the hype, don't expect a significant drop off this year.
Check out the five young players who could become stars in their years in Iowa City.
James Morris, Sophomore LB
Due to a number of injuries at linebacker last year, Iowa was forced to start Morris and redshirt freshman Shane DiBona, and despite the youth and inexperience, the Hawkeye linebacker corps played very well in the latter half of the season.
Much of that success is due to Morris, who finished with 70 tackles and matured into one of the best freshmen in the league last season.
Ferentz has said since Morris came into the program that he would be comfortable playing Morris early on. A product of nearby Solon, Iowa, he has been around the program all his life, as his father is the Hawkeyes' equipment manager.
Morris has a great chance to build on that legacy over the next three years, and Ferentz has been very impressed with the improvement he showed this spring.
Expect Morris to become one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten over the course of his Iowa career and follow in the footsteps of recent great Hawkeye linebackers Chad Greenway and Pat Angerer.
Marcus Coker, Sophomore RB
Coker was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school, and after weathering a shoulder injury at the end of the summer, he took over once the Hawkeyes ran out of running backs—literally—toward the end of the season.
Once given his chance, Coker proved he was every bit as good as advertised, capping off a solid end of the season with a 219-yard performance in the Insight Bowl.
With the 2011 season approaching, Coker is the clear No. 1 running back and will be utilized much more this year, as he tries to take the load off of new quarterback James Vandenberg behind a veteran offensive line.
The workload will be tough—similar to that of 2008 phenom Shonn Greene—but it will give Coker a chance to become one of the top running backs in Iowa history.
Rodney Coe, Mika'il McCall, Jordan Canzeri, Freshman RBs
It's impossible to be too deep at running back.
Iowa learned that lesson the hard way last season, as it was forced to start a freshman at the end of the year after having nine scholarship running backs in August.
With that in mind, the Hawkeyes signed one of the best running back classes of the Kirk Ferentz era, including Rodney Coe, Mika'il McCall and Jordan Canzeri.
All three have the chance to be stars—Canzeri is very quick, while Coe and McCall are typical big, physical Iowa backs.
It's unclear which one of the three will grab the No. 2 job next year, but Ferentz indicated that one or more could see time next season. That will be an asset, as Coker will be receiving a lot of carries and will need breaks in order to avoid injury and fatigue.
CJ Fiedorowicz, Sophomore TE
Fiedorowicz was one of Iowa's most highly-touted recruits in the 2010 recruiting class, and after playing in the shadow of Allen Reisner and Brad Herman last season, he should get a chance to see the field much more frequently in 2011.
At 6'7", 250 pounds, Fiedorowicz has dream size for a college tight end and will be a huge target for quarterback James Vandenberg this year as the No. 2 tight end, as the Hawkeyes like to employ a number of two tight end sets.
Iowa is known for developing its tight ends and employing a next man in mentality. This year should be a good practice year for Fiedorowicz to gain experience before eventually taking over the No. 1 job.
Marcus Grant, Freshman WR
This is just a feeling, as the 2011 wide receiver recruit has yet to play a game at Kinnick Stadium.
Grant was Iowa's first recruit, committing in April 2010, which led to his falling off the recruiting radar and missing out on the hype that surrounded some of the Hawkeyes' other top recruits.
However, the Massachusetts product has continued to prove why he was picked up by the Hawkeyes, and he has returned the love as well, interactive with Iowa fans and sharing his excitement on Twitter.
That is the type of player that Ferentz likes to recruit: a player who has talent and is excited to be a Hawkeye.
Iowa has less depth at receiver this year compared to the last few seasons, which means Grant could see playing time this season and begin a DJK-like career—without the drama—in Iowa City.