Iowa players warmup during a spring practice at Valley Stadium in Des Moines on Friday, April 7, 2017. The Hawkeyes will host a night spring game in Iowa City on Friday, April 21. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Hawkeyes swarm Des Moines for spring practice

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By Adam Hensley

adam-hensley@uiowa.edu

The Hawkeye football team traveled to West Des Moines for its fifth-annual spring practice at Valley Stadium on April 7.

Shortly before the practice began, the program announced that free safety Brandon Snyder tore his ACL in practice on April 6.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz said the injury occurred in the morning during a special-team drill.

“He really didn’t know he was injured till [later],” Ferentz said. “During the day it was a little sore. He got it examined last night, and we found out that it looks like he’s got an ACL tear.”

Snyder is out indefinitely with the setback and will likely undergo surgery next week.

The Hawkeyes listed junior Jake Gervase behind Snyder on the spring depth chart. Ferentz noted that Amani Hooker would get looks at the position as well.

Last season, Snyder started all 13 games. The junior finished third on the team with 85 tackles, tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions, and led the team in forced fumbles (3).

Snyder isn’t the only Hawkeye who won’t participate this spring.

Iowa pulled wide receiver Jerminic Smith from all football activities after he failed to meet academic standards, including class attendance and study hours, according to a release handed out prior to the Hawkeyes’ practice.

“It’s really kind of like Brandon being injured, if a player is not on the field, he’s losing ground,” Ferentz said.

Third on the team with 23 receptions, Smith racked up 314 yards and scored 2 touchdowns.

New faces, more experience

With new hirings, Iowa bolstered its offensive-line coaching.

That also means the offensive line is susceptible to more instructions from more coaches.

“Best coached or most confused, one or the other,” Ferentz joked. “[Sometimes] kids hear too many things from too many different voices, but I think we’re all talking to the same voice.”

The benefits of advice from both Kirk and Brian Ferentz and Tim Polasek outweigh the occasional overwhelming technique details.

“It’s pretty cool to have three mastermind coaches together,” offensive lineman James Daniels said.

Toren Young finding his role

Toren Young, a redshirt freshman running back from Madison, Wisconsin, caught his coaches’ eyes with early work in practices.

“A lot of the redshirt guys, we’re seeing good things,” Kirk Ferentz said. “Toren is certainly one of those guys.”

Young’s downhill, power-running style drew comparisons to LeShun Daniels, Shonn Greene, and Marcus Coker, his coach said.

Teammates with Daniels for a season, Young valued their time together – their similar power-back running style provided a learning experience while he sat out during his redshirt.

“Early on, when I came in, I had high pad level,” Young said. “Being a physical back and priding yourself on being physical, you can’t run high. He really coached me up on getting my pad level down.”

Young had some interest from Wisconsin before joining the Iowa program, but the interest level wasn’t comparable with the Hawkeye program.

“I’m comfortable here, and I love it here,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

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