IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa spring football wrapped up with the spring game last Friday. Players put plenty on film during 15 practices. Some stood out more than others.
Here is a list of five breakout performers from the spring for the Hawkeyes.
WR Nick Easley
He impressed coaches during winter meetings and workouts. When the pads came on in the spring, he made plays.
Easley, a junior, started the spring No. 2 on the depth chart but quickly worked his way into the starting unit. He’s a former junior college All-American at Iowa Western. There is a good chance his first Iowa appearance will be as a starter.
S Jake Gervase
Iowa needed to find a starting free safety after Brandon Snyder tore his left ACL in April. The search may be over. Jake Gervase, a junior, filled the role in the final days of spring practice.
He broke out during the spring game, recording 3 interceptions, including a 59-yard touchdown return. But his true breakout moment came earlier in camp, if you listen to coach Kirk Ferentz and his teammates.
Regardless, Gervase could be the answer to one of the biggest questions that popped up this spring.
RB Toren Young
At 5-foot-11, 220-pounds, Young looks like the kind of big, bruising runner the Hawkeyes like to employ. Running back Akrum Wadley compared Young’s physical style that of former Iowa back LeShun Daniels.
Young put his skills on display in the spring game, rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown. He is in position to carve out a role this fall. Wadley may see time in the slot, which means Iowa would need another running back. Young is the clubhouse leader.
DT Brady Reiff
Coaches praised the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Reiff during spring practice. An ankle injury kept him from putting his skills on display last Friday.
Defensive tackle is a question mark following the departures of Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie. Iowa needs multiple players to step up and provide depth. Reiff is a name to watch during preseason camp.
DE A.J. Epenesa
Technically, Epenesa didn’t take part in spring practice. He was throwing the shot put and discus at Edwardsville (Ill.) High School.
It seemed like the incoming freshman was on the field, considering the number of questions asked about him and the way the coaching staff spoke about him.
Defensive coordinator Phil Parker believes Epenesa could play 15-to-20 snaps right away. Epenesa is a 5-star prospect and learned he was ready for the next level at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. Parker’s estimation may end up being too low.