By Pete Ruden
At this time last year, Iowa football had a lot of controversy at the quarterback position, but that’s not the position it finds itself in this year.
With Nate Stanley firmly slotted as the No. 1 quarterback and Tyler Wiegers’ transfer to Eastern Michigan, there is no competition, but there are questions about depth.
The addition of Spencer Petras in the spring puts three scholarship quarterbacks on the Iowa roster, which is somewhat low, but it’s not the end of the world.
Luckily for the Hawkeyes, Petras and sophomore Peyton Mansell have potential to be solid backups to Stanley, despite their youth and inexperience on the field.
Mansell redshirted last year and gained some experience in the Iowa program under Stanley and Wiegers, while Petras had an incredible high-school senior season, breaking school records for passing yards (4,157) and touchdowns (50) that had been held by Los Angeles Ram quarterback Jared Goff.
Neither Mansell nor Petras has played in the Black and Gold, but one of them will have to step up and be the safety net that Wiegers was last season.
“They’ve got to know what they’re doing. That’s the No. 1 way to work yourself into that spot,” quarterback coach Ken O’Keefe said. “Those guys are extremely valuable. Peyton’s been here already for a semester, so he’s got a little bit better idea of what’s going on with most of the stuff that we’re doing right now, and Spencer’s racing right along, trying to learn at the same time.”
Easley stepping up
Wide receiver Nick Easley played a big role for the Hawkeyes last year, stepping up when Iowa needed another pass catcher. Now in his second season, he’s showing his skills as a leader.
A transfer from Iowa Western, Easley had an impressive first year, leading the team with 51 receptions and 530 yards and adding 4 touchdowns.
Wide-receiver coach Kelton Copeland said Easley is a “fundamental technician” willing to do everything he is coached to do.
Copeland said Easley isn’t the biggest or fastest receiver on the field, but his fundamentals are top-notch, making him a dangerous football player.
With a young receiver corps including Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith — the only other wideouts on the roster to have caught a pass — Easley’s do-it-right attitude is something he can pass down to younger teammates.
“He does everything well, he does everything the way you coach it, he does everything the way you want it — that in itself is a leader,” Copeland said. “A guy who holds himself to a standard and then hold the rest of his teammates accountable. That’s the next step with Nick … He’s doing a great job of that this spring.”
Hockaday’s last chance
In three seasons at Iowa, linebacker Jack Hockaday has racked up 15 tackles. With the group of Josey Jewell, Ben Niemann, and Bo Bower in front of him, Hockaday saw most of his action on special teams, but now the Forsyth, Illinois, native has a chance to make an impact on defense.
Hockaday entered the spring season second on the depth chart at middle linebacker behind Kristian Welch, but as the offseason rolls along, the chart is subject to change.
After being slowed by injuries last year, Hockaday isn’t focused on his past difficulties; he looks to the future instead.
“You just put it behind you, and you look forward,” Hockaday said. “There’s nothing you can do about those things, so just control what you can control.”
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