The best way to start your day is right here at Landof10.com as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Hawkeyes Wake-Up Call here with you at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.
So let’s get to it. Here is your Wake-Up Call for Friday, Dec. 23.
Fully committed to the bowl game
Iowa cornerback Desmond King saw what LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey did, choosing to skip a bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft.
He never considered joining them.
“That is not a thought in my head at all,” King said. “Just having the opportunity to play in a bowl game was very significant, and I’m very honored to be able to play.”
Like Fournette and McCaffrey, NFL interest surrounded King all season. Like Fournette and McCaffery, King is expected to be taken early in the NFL draft.
But unlike Fournette and McCaffrey, King’s college career isn’t over yet.
Finishing out the season and getting one last chance to suit up mattered to him. King said he understands why Fournette and McCaffrey made their decisions. It just wasn’t for him.
“It’s about their health and getting that jump-start in training,” King said. “Like I said, from a teammate’s standpoint it’s their decision to put forth what their career is going to be in the near future. I support them 100 percent on them. From my standpoint, I’m really focused on winning this bowl game.”
Fully committed to the bowl game, part II
Coach Kirk Ferentz spoke for the first time about Matt VandeBerg getting a medical hardship waiver on Thursday. He said he was thrilled, but thought one of VandeBerg’s requests was odd.
“The bad news is that Matt informed me yesterday he will not play in next year’s bowl, if we earn a bid,” joked Ferentz.
It was Ferentz’s entry into a larger point. He is worried about people, be it fans, the media or commentators, calling non-playoff bowl matchups meaningless. The word choice and the implications associated with it bother him.
“I’ve coached in the NFL,” Ferentz said, “I’ve coached 27 years here now in a couple different capacities, I coached in what used to be I-AA football and it was for the academy, Worcester Academy. If we lined up and played, it was important to the team, whether we might have had 38 players, the 42 parents that might have been there, that type of thing. It’s really been no different at any level: if you line up and play, games are important.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s heard Ferentz speak over the years that this is where he would fall on the bowl issue. Meaningless probably isn’t the right word, but there is truth to the larger point. The college football postseason world is structured. The playoff sits at the top. Then come the New Year’s Six Bowls, and then everything else.
This isn’t new. It’s always been that way. The BCS Championship Game used to be the pinnacle. The Rose Bowl always carried more weight than the Sun Bowl.
Some postseason opportunities are more prestigious than others. It’s always been that way. The only change is some running backs appear to be taking it into consideration when making decisions about their future.
Iowa athlete-of-the-year nominees
Earlier this week, The Wake-Up Call asked for nominations for the inaugural Iowa Athlete of the Year award. Thanks to everyone who sent in a name.
Without further ado, here are the finalists for the men’s and women’s honors.
Male Athlete of the Year
- C.J. Beathard, football, 1,874 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, 56.8 percent completion percentage
- Cory Clark, wrestling, NCAA runner-up for second straight season
- Desmond King, football, 53 tackles, 7 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, multiple All-America honors
- Josey Jewell, football, 114 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 8 pass breakups, Butkus Award finalist
- Jarrod Uthoff, basketball, 18.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and consensus All-American
- Akrum Wadley, football, 996 rushing yards, 294 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, All-Big Ten third-team
Female Athlete of the Year
- Natalie Cafone, field hockey, 20 goals (first in Big Ten), 48 points (second in Big Ten), first-team All-American
- Ally Disterhoft, basketball, 17.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, All-Big Ten second-team 2015-16
- Mollie Drenth, gymnastics, 13th in the all-around at the NCAA’s, All-American first-team in the beam
- Holly Hoffman, softball, .304 AVG, 4 HR, All-Big Ten second-team
- Amy Ihm, golf, 69th at NCAA Regional, All-Big Ten second-team
- Loxley Keala, volleyball, 11.02 sets and 2.06 digs per game, All-Big Ten honorable mention
Winners will be announced on Monday.
Chuck that football
Iowa quarterback commit Peyton Mansell headed to the Blue-Grey All-American Game, in part, to see how his thumb would respond to throwing the football.
It looks like it wasn’t a problem.
— Shawn Woodsmall (@woodsmall12) December 22, 2016
Outback Bowl injury updates
Ferentz won’t come out and say he’s expecting offensive lineman Cole Croston to play, but it’s quickly approaching that point. Croston, who missed five of the last six games with a leg injury, recently returned to practice and Ferentz likes what he is seeing.
“Hardly out of the woods and he missed a lot of time, but the good news is everything is positive right now and hopefully we can just kind of keep him on track,” Ferentz said, “and, if so, we plan on playing him if he’s able to play, certainly we’d like to get him in there.”
Croston’s return would be a bonus for an offensive line that helped Iowa churn out 200 rushing yards in the last two games of the season.
It is still too early for Ferentz to say if cornerback Manny Rugamba, who suffered a shoulder injury against Nebraska, will face No. 17 Florida in the Outback Bowl.
“We’ll know more maybe at the end of this week,” Ferentz said. “He’s got a little bit of a fracture, so it has to be far enough along.”
One recruit off the board
Iowa defensive tackle recruiting target Kendrick Green selected Illinois on Thursday night.
— Kendrick J. Green (@The_fridge53) December 23, 2016
Green is a three-star prospect from Peoria (Ill.) High School.
Lots of links
- Cornerback Desmond King graduated in three-and-a-half years.
- Quarterback C.J. Beathard likes fatherhood.
- North Dakota men’s basketball assistant and former Iowa player Jeff Horner went to social media to explain what he did at the end of Tuesday’s game.
- Iowa men’s basketball beat Delaware State, 89-57, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday.