Notebook: Fiedorowicz turning heads

BY SETH ROBERTS | APRIL 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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C.J. Fiedorowicz probably could have played college basketball.

He played for four years at Johnsburg (Ill.) High, and holds the school's career scoring record. He stands 6-7, with shoulders that stretch for yards and a wingspan of about a mile. He used that body to help the Skyhawks to a 25-3 record in his senior campaign, according to MaxPreps.com.

But he chose to pursue football, much to the delight of first-year Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis.

"I've never seen a tight end like C.J., with his size and ability to play at the line of scrimmage and also stretch the field," said Davis, a veteran of 39 football seasons.

And Fiedorowicz has used some of his basketball training on the gridiron, too.

"There's a term we use where our tight ends get big in the paint," Davis said. "He knows how to get big in the paint; he knows how to get there and box out backwards and that kind of stuff.

"… I think we'll be able to expand his role as we continue to go."

Davis said some of that role expansion could take the form of Fiedorowicz and the rest of the tight ends — although Fiedorowicz is the presumptive starter, having led the position in receptions last season with 16 — spreading out and playing more as wide receivers on occasion.

Throw in a smattering of the no-huddle offense Davis said the offense is working on, and the coordinator sounds optimistic the 2012 Hawkeyes could be even more potent than the squad that was among the Big Ten's best in 2011.

The longtime coach said he has been happy with how his running backs have handled themselves this spring, even though they're inexperienced and their numbers were depleted by Jordan Canzeri's torn ACL.

James Vandenberg has the potential to be "an outstanding player" this season, Davis said.

"Every day when I go to the meeting room, [Vandenberg] is already there watching film," he said. "He has a list of questions. He has picked up the things we have changed extremely quickly … I've always said I think James will be one of our strong points."

And if Fiedorowicz continues to develop — and stay on the field, which has been a recurring issue for the junior thus far in his Iowa career — Vandenberg could have a weapon unlike any other in the conference.

"It's tough [to cover him] — you have to play it the best you can, trust your technique," safety Tanner Miller said. "He's one in a million; you don't see that kind of guy very often, so you have to do the best you can … it's all gang-tackling, you can't rely on one guy to bring him down because the chances of that are slim."

Keenan Davis, Shane DiBona hurt

Two names were noticeably absent from the depth chart released on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Keenan Davis and linebacker Shane DiBona have suffered "minor injuries," according to Iowa Sports Information. Neither will take part in the team's open practice on Saturday.

Neither Greg Davis nor defensive coordinator Phil Parker would elaborate on the nature of the ailments, although the offensive coordinator said his senior wideout will have plenty of work to do in the summer to make up for the missed time.

"It's a brand-new offense, especially in the passing game," Greg Davis said. "… He's not getting all the reps you would typically get in the spring. Each rep is different, the defense does something different. They react differently. That's what he's missing out on."

DiBona and Keenan Davis will join defensive linemen Dominic Alvis and Carl Davis on the sidelines on Saturday; Alvis and Davis are still recovering from knee issues. Alvis tore his ACL late in the 2011 campaign and had surgery last November, while Davis had an unspecified injury repaired in January.

"I'm coming along with my recovery, and expect to be full-speed by June," Alvis said. "… It kills me right now [to not practice], but it's one of those things I need to do because I need to heal come next fall."

Follow DI Sports Editor Seth Roberts on Twitter.

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