Ferentz opens spring practice


Back on national signing day, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz vowed that unless he got hit by a truck, he would be in Iowa City for the start of the spring football season, which began Wednesday.

Seven weeks passed, and there was Ferentz, beginning the 11th chapter of his head-coach tenure at Iowa, sitting at the podium and taking questions left and right from local media about the 2009 version of the Hawkeyes.

As he usually does, he began by addressing injuries, saying four players who are listed first string on the current spring depth chart will be unable to participate in spring activities. Those players are seniors-to-be A.J. Edds and Tony Moeaki, junior-to-be Brett Greenwood, and sophomore-to-be Tyler Sash.

In addition, offensive lineman Andy Kuempel and defensive lineman Cody Hundertmark are both battling injuries, he said.

“Those six guys, that’s a pretty, pretty big dent,” Ferentz said. “That’s a little bit of a negative, but on the other side of it, it really gives an opportunity to some other players, some younger players to get exposure. We hope those guys will stay engaged and do their best to move forward as best they can.”

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With Edds, Greenwood, and Sash all recovering from shoulder injuries, some of those opportunities will come in the back seven, particularly the secondary. Filling those safety roles for the time being are sophomore-to-be David Cato and redshirt freshman-to-be Jack Swanson, both of whom Ferentz said will get plenty of work this spring.

The depth chart provides plenty of intrigue. At receiver, senior-to-be Trey Stross and junior-to-be Colin Sandeman are currently listed as first string. Juniors-to-be Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Paul Chaney Jr., and sophomore-to-be Marvin McNutt, who converted from quarterback, are in the mix.

The offensive line consists of three guys who started in Iowa’s 31-10 Outback Bowl victory over South Carolina — juniors-to-be Bryan Bulaga and Julian Vandervelde and senior-to-be Kyle Calloway. Ferentz said senior-to-be Rafael Eubanks is in the running at both guard and center. The others in competition at center are junior-to-be Josh Koeppel and redshirt freshman-to-be James Ferentz.

“Right now, it’s a jump ball certainly. [Eubanks] is the most experienced of the three,” the coach said. “Raf had a tough year. It was a tough year for him injury-wise; things didn’t go the way he had planned. There’s no question he’s capable, and from an experience standpoint, he has played a lot of football at both guard and center.”

Junior-to-be quarterback Ricky Stanzi is listed as first-string, and Ferentz said he is “clearly the favorite.” Two guys who will provide some competition to the Mentor, Ohio, native this spring will be quarterbacks James Vandenberg and John Wienke.

Defensively, the biggest question mark comes with replacing Mitch King and Matt Kroul. Among the linemen listed on the depth chart, the only one Ferentz said he’s considering moving around is senior-to-be Chad Geary.

“Chad has done a nice job for us as a back-up end and has played well when he has played,” Ferentz said. “So we’re going to play around with him and see if he can play inside, too, and see what kind of knack he has for that.”

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