It’s been a fast spring. Next weekend is Iowa’s open practice. The weekend after that is the NFL Draft. Then it’s May.
Iowa had its final player availability for media before next weekend’s open practice. I spent a chunk of that time with fan-favorite punter Tory Taylor.
On the field, Taylor said he’s trying to close the gap between his good punts and bad punts. Off the field, he’s working to become more of a leader in the specialists’ room.
Age wise, that leadership makes a lot of sense. Taylor will turn 25 this summer (and is actually a few months older than me). The youngest player in the specialists’ room right now (incoming freshman kicker Drew Stevens) is six years and five months younger than Taylor. Talent wise, it also makes sense to have the leader be the best player in the room.
The leader in the specialists’ room was already dispensing wisdom this week, including one important thing for some fans to keep in mind.
“It kind of cracks me up when all the Iowa fans get so upset after a loss,” Taylor said. “We're not the ones sitting at home drinking a beer and eating a hot dog on the couch. … We want to win more than anybody else.”
Here are some other takeaways after another week of spring practices:
Cooper DeJean could be someone poised to take a big jump in 2022. He’s garnered a lot of praise from both defensive coordinator Phil Parker and special teams coordinator LeVar Woods. (It might’ve been the first time Woods brought up the same guy as a possible fit at holder and punt returner.)
Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV seem to be adjusting to life as a college football player in their second offseason in Iowa City. Bruce told me a few weeks ago he switched majors to something easier to balance with football. Johnson said he added yoga to his training regimen after his abdominal injury that kept him out of the Citrus Bowl.
Away from Kinnick…
I’m assuming most people heard the news by now, but Kris Murray is testing the NBA Draft waters. As Mike Hlas pointed out in the article I just linked to, this does NOT mean he’s leaving Iowa. Declaring for the draft while maintaining his eligibility allows Murray to receive feedback from NBA scouts and use that to improve in 2022-23.
Iowa gymnastics had quite the week this week. Sophomore Adeline Kenlin, who grew up in Iowa City, earned first-team All-American honors after placing second on the balance beam at the 2022 NCAA Championships. Kenlin is just the fourth Hawkeye to earn that recognition in program history and the first since 2016.
I’ll have a special pre-spring scrimmage edition of the newsletter next week. In the meantime, have a happy and blessed Easter (to those who celebrate) and try not to get blown to Missouri with these April winds.
IOWA CITY — With third-team AP All-American Caleb Shudak out of eligibility, Iowa’s biggest special teams question is surely at kicker, and it’s not something likely to be resolved soon.
“I don't see anyone leading or trailing right now,” special teams coordinator LeVar Woods said. “I see the competition coming into the summer and probably into fall camp.”
Aaron Blom was the starter on the depth chart released at the beginning of spring practices, but freshman Drew Stevens comes in as the ...
IOWA CITY — Iowa punter Tory Taylor had no shortage of jokes as he participated in Tuesday’s outdoor practice while wearing a microphone.
“It’s good to be outside, Coach Wallace,” the punter said to linebackers coach Seth Wallace. “It’s about time you and the defense toughened up.”
Ken O’Keefe’s recent retirement from quarterbacks coach didn’t make him immune to Taylor’s humor.
“I hope when I’m retired I’m not — well, no offense — but I hope I’m not doing what you’re doing,” Taylor said to ...
IOWA CITY — At the same school as star basketball player Keegan Murray — spelled with two E’s and one A — wide receiver Keagan Johnson saw a few people misspell his name last year on social media.
“At the beginning of the year, there was a lot of people spelling it, ‘K-E-E,’” Johnson said. “I didn't see as much toward the end of the year.”
That change may be because of the spotlight Johnson drew as a playmaking wide receiver on Iowa’s offense.
The Bellevue, Neb., native started nine games, ...
IOWA CITY — Former Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum finally had his chance to show NFL scouts what he can do in the traditional pre-draft drills Monday.
The unanimous All-American held his own pro day at Iowa’s practice facility Monday after being unable to participate in drills at the NFL Combine and later at Iowa’s pro day.
Linderbaum said last month that his mid-foot sprain from the Citrus Bowl kept him from participating in the combine.
“It’s all healthy now,” Linderbaum said at the NFL ...