A few weeks ago, Iowa was officially admitted to the Bowl when the Hawkeyes defeated Wisconsin and racked up six wins. Last weekend, the Hawkeyes improved to 7:4 and now want to beat Nebraska to 8:4 next Friday.
Iowa will receive a maximum of 15 additional drills by the time of the bowl game. This is usually a time when the younger players can emerge and level up as the extra practice is tremendous for their development.
Who are some names who could benefit the most from the extra practice as it could help their role next fall? Here are a few.
DB Xavier Nwankpa – The question remains whether or not Kaevon Merriweather will return to Iowa for another season. If he doesn’t, Nwankpa could be in a strong position to earn a starting spot at the safety position next door next year Quinn Schulte. Iowa Defense Coordinator Phil Parker has raved about Nwankpa’s upgrade and cap, and Nwankpa bought into the development phase as a true novice.
DB TJ Hall – Riley Moss will be gone next year and there is uncertainty as to what Terry Roberts will be doing next fall. However, the Hawkeyes return Cooper DeJean and Jermari Harris is expected to return next fall after being sidelined this year with an injury. Hall was one of the early enrollers in the 2022 class and popped up the depth chart with a strong spring ball and then carried it into fall camp and then into the season. He impressed Iowa staff in the early days and could be on course to take a role in defense next fall as the third cornerback behind DeJean and Harris, depending on what Roberts does.
QB Joey Labas – Who knows what will happen to the quarterback position for Iowa next fall. All we know is that Spencer Petras still has a year left if he decides to come back, and Alex Padilla has two more years. Labas could be a big leap this offseason and in bowl prep with his accuracy and decision making. His playmaking skills are there and he can throw some tough shots but there is still progress to be made.
OIL Logan Jones – Jones is the only starter in this group but being a late substitute in the middle there is still a lot to grow in his game. He’s gotten better over the year, although he’s still picking things up with snaps and chemistry across the offensive line. He could be the starter who benefits the most from the extra bowl training.
TE Addison Ostrenga – The true freshman will see more replays this weekend like he did against Minnesota last weekend with Sam LaPorta’s injury. Ostrenga seemed to be the close end behind Luke Lachey, and Iowa likes how Ostrenga picked things up quickly. Ostrenga could become the key play behind Lachey next year Steven Stilianosso it will be important to get to know Ostrenga better.
WR Brody Brecht – Brecht could go into baseball full-time, but his Tuesday quotes about sticking with football seemed to say something about his thought process while planning to stick with football. Brecht was absent through most of the spring and summer through injury and Ferentz mentioned on Tuesday how important it was for him to train with the team now compared to before. Brecht showed what he can bring with two key catches against Minnesota last week and he’s perfectly healthy and in a routine could help bolster that offense.
DB Koen Entinger – Entringer has been working primarily on the Scout team this fall, but Iowa has been impressed with his progress and potential high school suitability. Quinn Schulte has a few years left, but Entringer can work his way down the depth chart and keep growing with great bowl prep. There are plenty of reasons to get excited about Iowa’s true freshman defensive back class with Nwankpa, Entringer and Hall.