Iowa football is back. The Hawkeyes are in camp, and the season is approaching. Land of 10 is here to keep you informed and get you prepared for the season. In August, we are breaking down position groups. Here are the defensive backs.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Land of 10 will project Iowa’s depth chart for each position group before the Hawkeyes take the field Sept. 2 against Wyoming. Here’s a look at how the secondary stacks up:
RCB — 1. Manny Rugamba, Soph., 6-0, 185; 2. Michael Ojemudia, Soph., 6-2, 190; 3. Cedric Boswell, Fr., 5-11, 187 OR Trey Creamer, Fr., 6-0, 175
LCB — 1. Joshua Jackson, Jr., 6-1, 192; 2. Matt Hankins, Fr., 6-1, 175; 3. Josh Turner, Fr., 6-0, 180
SS — 1. Miles Taylor, Sr., 5-10, 203; 2. Amani Hooker, Soph., 6-0, 210; 3. Wes Dvorak, Soph., 6-0, 192
FS — 1. Jake Gervase, Jr., 6-1, 210; 2. Geno Stone, Fr., 6-0, 195; 3. Noah Clayburg, Fr., 5-11, 209
NICKEL — 1. Rugamba (Ojemudia moved to corner); 2. Hankins
OTHERS IN THE MIX — Brandon Snyder, Jr., 6-1, 214 (injured/out); Jack Koerner, Fr., 6-1, 195; John Milani, Soph., 6-0, 195
The King: Brandon Snyder
The Hawkeyes graduated two cornerbacks with a combined 86 starts, including two-time All-American Desmond King. That left the secondary’s leadership to junior Brandon Snyder. Unfortunately, Snyder suffered a torn left ACL in an early-April practice, which could end his season.
Not only does Snyder’s injury rob Iowa’s secondary of a starter, it hurts because he was an ascending talent. Snyder was inconsistent for much of his sophomore season, but he led the team in forced fumbles (3) and tied for the team-high in interceptions (3) and fumble recoveries (2). He also was the third-leading tackler and produced several bone-jarring hits.
Snyder won’t provide a timetable on his return. It’s possible he could see action late in the season.
The wild card: Amani Hooker
Once Brandon Snyder went down with his knee injury, sophomore Amani Hooker became the primary backup at both safety positions last spring. He has pushed starters Miles Taylor and Jake Gervase, and, at 210 pounds, Hooker is bigger than Taylor.
Hooker, who hails from Minneapolis, played in every game and totaled 4 tackles last season as a freshman, mostly on special teams.
The newcomer: Geno Stone
Geno Stone was a last-second recruit for Iowa in January, and he already has worked up to second team free safety. Stone, a native of New Castle, Pa., intercepted 10 passes as a high school senior to set a conference record, and 17 picks overall.
Stone combines good size — 6-foot, 195 pounds — along with top ball skills. He accounted for 34 total touchdowns as a New Castle senior, with 11 of those coming over two consecutive playoff games.
“He’s doing a good job and is potentially in the mix,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said about Stone. “I’m not saying it’s the same as [Amani] Hooker last year, but we played him on special teams and he was a backup safety. How much can he learn that way? I don’t know, but he is in the mix for special teams for sure. If a guy can help us, I think that’s good. It’s made Amani a better player this year than he would have been had he redshirted. That’s a bonus if a guy gives up that year to help our special teams be better. We have been practicing pretty well on special teams, and we are looking at him and he has an opportunity right now.”