I freelance for the Lindy's spring/summer publication. It's a fun deal because some of the things I'm asked to write, I don't really write anywhere else.
There is a "best and brightest" section that asks me to come up with an MVP, Emerging Star and Top Newcomer for the upcoming season. This goes into the projection business, but hey, why not?
I asked the question on Twitter and Hawkeye fans talked me into changing one of my responses. (I'll post that one later this week.) Hey, I'm all for debate. I constantly write I don't know all the answers. My role isn't to impose my opinion on you, but maybe guide the discussion.
I'll be writing the three I came up with the next couple days here. Today, it's Top Newcomer.
I picked freshman OL Brandon Scherff.
Yes, the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder ended spring practice as No. 1 left guard, but that was with sophomore Nolan MacMillan sitting out with a shoulder injury. MacMillan started six games in '10 before injuries kept him off the field. So, yes, there's some healthy competition here and nothing is guaranteed for Scherff.
"Right now, of the five, he’s fifth, just as far as his tempo,” Ferentz said. “He looks like a younger guy. He’s not reacting as quickly to things as you might like, but he has good potential, is coachable and works hard. I think these 15 days will really help. I expect him to be a much better player in August and he should be. We’re going to need him to take another step for sure and a couple more guys from that group do the same thing.”
Couple scenarios could play out here:
1) MacMillan wins the job, but Scherff earns an odd series here and there.
Iowa has done this. Dace Richardson mixed in and out as a true frosh. Ben Sobieski and Andy Lightfoot did some switching in '02. I think Kirk Ferentz likes to have a set five, but this could also be a nod to the future, which brings me to No. 2.
2) Iowa could need two tackles in '12 and one of those might be Scherff.
Riley Reiff's name has come up in more than a few mock drafts. Google and see Reiff going to the Chiefs and as high as No. 7 to the Bengals. There's more, Reiff, 6-6, 300, will be 23 in December. The timing lines up for an early entry, but he said it's not in his plans.
“I don’t follow any of that stuff," Reiff said. "I plan on being around here for two years so that doesn’t even matter. They [draft projectionists] must not watch film, if that’s the case.”
Markus Zusevics is a senior. Reiff is a draft mention and more-than-a-lukewarm commodity. So, Iowa could be in the market for a pair of tackles. You'd think Scherff would be in that mix. He's 6-5, 310. He played QB as a sophomore at Denison High School, throwing for 1,200 yards. MacMillan, 6-6, 288, would also be a candidate along with Andrew Donnal, Brett Van Sloten and Matt Tobin.
If Scherff is in the tackle plans, you'd think some time at guard would be the gateway. Worked for Bryan Bulaga. It also worked for Mike Jones. At minimum, it would show him the speed of the game.
Other candidates for Top Newcomer
Cornerback B.J. Lowery -- From all accounts, the 5-11, 180-pound sophomore had a terrific spring. He'll be locked in a battle with junior Greg Castillo.
DT Carl Davis -- If Davis comes through, Iowa's D-line might be able to supply enough bodies for a healthy rotation. Davis, a redshirt freshman, is a bigger body (6-5, 295), and he did end the spring as a No. 1. Will he hold it?
LBs Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens -- You can certainly argue that one of these sophomores should be top newcomer. Unlike Scherff, it's a virtual lock that one and probably both play and a lot.
RB Mika'il McCall -- Someone is going to have to be the No. 2 RB, which means someone not named Marcus Coker could get as many as 100 carries, which was in the neighborhood that Jewel Hampton had in '08. Shonn Greene's 307 carries in '08 are the anomaly. The Iowa formula is more in the range of 200-100. Coker gets the 200. Who gets the 100?
Tomorrow -- Emerging Star
2010 -- Adam Robinson 203, Marcus Coker 114
2009 -- Adam Robinson 181, Brandon Wegher 162
2008 -- Shonn Greene 307, Jewel Hampton 91
2007 -- Albert Young 206, Damian Sims 100
2006 -- Albert Young 178, Damian Sims 132