Hawkeye senior football trio say they’re set to lead


CHICAGO — Every summer, all 11 Big Ten coaches make decisions on which three players they’ll take with them to the Windy City for the conference’s annual football media days.

Such an honor is typically bestowed upon seniors under head coach Kirk Ferentz, and this year was no exception.

The fortunate trio of senior linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds and senior tight end Tony Moeaki joined 30 other football players at the Hyatt Regency.

It is only fitting that a player such as Angerer made this trip. During the course of this decade, Iowa’s success has been fueled by players such as the Bettendorf native, who at this time a year ago wasn’t even a sure bet to start.

Last year, Angerer and former running back Shonn Greene were barely mentioned at the conference, while focus centered on the seniors. And the seniors who represented the Hawkeyes this week said there may be others flying under the radar again, even though they made major contributions to the Hawkeyes one season ago.

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The senior leaders mentioned such names as junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi and sophomore running back Jewel Hampton, but the player given the most praise by his teammates was junior cornerback Amari Spievey, who wound up starting all 13 of Iowa’s games in 2008 after spending 2007 at Iowa Central Community College.

“He came back from Iowa Central, he played well, and I think he’s really improved,” Moeaki said. “He had a really great spring ball. He’s just a really good corner, and outside of Iowa, I don’t think many people realize how good he is.”

As for the two playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, Edds thought roommate Stanzi may surprise a lot of people, even alongside the publicity that comes with being the starting quarterback at a Big Ten school.

“Rick has only scratched the surface of how successful he can be,” Edds said. “I think he has a huge, huge upside as far as where he can kind of end up and how successful he can be. He’s going to get the attention because he’s our starting quarterback, and yeah, he finished up playing really well last year, but he’s still got a lot of upside toward what he can do.”

Hampton is currently listed as the heir-apparent at running back to Greene, last season’s Doak Walker Award winner. As a true freshman last year, the Indianapolis native made some highlight reel runs of his own, scoring seven touchdowns on the ground.

“I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people,” Angerer said. “Just tackling Jewel is like hitting a brick wall. He’s solid, he’s strong, and tackling him, he’s hitting you first. It definitely really makes for good collisions.”

These Hawkeyes are also aware of the responsibility being placed on them by the coaching staff.

Linebackers Edds and Angerer know what’s expected of them in terms of leadership on the defensive side of the ball — especially following the weight carried by former defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul.

“It’s a big honor. It’s a big honor to even wear black and gold,” Angerer said. “The economy’s so bad right now. People are spending their hard-earned money to come watch us play. It’s a honor to go out there, and cheer them up a little bit, and sort of help their day out a little bit.”

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