IOWA CITY — Iowa freshman Austin Blythe has moved into a starting role this spring at right guard, but his future might be at center.
Blythe, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound Williamsburg native, worked as the team’s second-team center in team drills as well as Iowa’s first-team guard. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said his goal is for Blythe to stay at guard this season.
“This year, hopefully it’s guard because hopefully our center plays well enough to stay in there,” said Ferentz with a chuckle. Ferentz’s son, James, enters his third season as the team’s starting center. “We’d like to get our best five on the field, and we thought (Blythe) had the makings of a real good center. He spent a lot of time last year working as a No. 2 center, and there’s no question that he can play well in there.”
Blythe was the only freshman competing with the starting offensive line during Saturday’s open practice at Kinnick Stadium. When Blythe moved to center with the second team, freshman Jordan Walsh moved in at right guard. Walsh and Blythe were highly recruited out of high school and both red-shirted last year.
“They’re a lot further along than when I was a freshman,” Iowa left guard Matt Tobin said. “(Blythe’s) a smart kid. He’s stout, strong. He’s always trying to get better.”
Also rotating at guard with the first-team unit was junior Conor Boffeli, who also can play center.
“I think Austin is going to be a really good football player for us hopefully sooner than later,” Ferentz said. “I think that’s probably realistic.”
Several players did not participate in the open practice because of injuries that occurred either last fall or this spring. They include DE Dominic Alvis (knee surgery), DT Carl Davis (knee surgery), DL Casey McMillan (knee sprain), RB Jordan Canzeri (knee surgery), WR John Chelf (knee surgery), LB Dakota Getz (kneecap surgery), LB Jim Poggi (undisclosed) and LB Shane DiBona (undisclosed). Wide receiver Keenan Davis (undisclosed) participated Saturday in a limited capacity, as did WR Steven Staggs and FB Brad Rogers.
Voting for the Cy-HawkOnline voting began Saturday morning for the new Cy-Hawk Trophy in a booth located at Krause Plaza, located south of Kinnick Stadium. There are three designs, one that includes the mascots, one that includes a football wrapped in an ear of corn and another that features a football sitting atop a cornstalk. Voting continues through April 30 at the Iowa Corn website. The winning trophy is announced May 1.