Jordan Lomax spent the 2012 season on the shelf. He suffered a torn labrum at some point last July, needed surgery and was ruled out for the season.
This spring, he started the Des Moines and Kinnick open practices at the right cornerback spot (typically the "boundary" -- short side of the field). Keep in mind that he spent nearly a year out of competition, but he had a tough time in the Kinnick scrimmage. He was called for two pass interference penalties and a defensive hold.
Coach Kirk Ferentz admitted after the scrimmage that the offense didn't challenge left cornerback B.J. Lowery nearly as much as it did Lomax (5-10, 195).
"Yes, I got the flags," Lomax said. "That's part of the game, but I definitely have to improve on that and make sure I don't get too many of those type of calls on me."
Key 2012 factor: Lomax missed 2012. In 2011, he played as a true freshman, so he took a redshirt last year and is now a third-year sophomore.
Lomax never dropped off defensive coordinator/secondary coach Phil Parker's radar.
"One thing about a kid missing a whole year, the one thing, a smart, intelligent kid, he paid attention all last year learning the system, what we’re asking our guys to do," Parker said. "He’s showing up in practice. He’s done a very, very good job. Very smart kid, fundamentally sound, so I really like him.
He’s a quiet leader. He’s done a good job. I’m not stamping him in there as my starter yet, but somebody has to line up in the first group right now, but I think he’s done a very good job."
So, maybe don't read too much into Lomax getting the starts this spring.
Offseason factor: There are actually a couple of positives with Lomax's injury. It was ID'd and operated on early. Also, it wasn't his legs, which is kind of a big deal. It's hard to say when the No. 1 corner gig was dangled in front of him, but that's a giant motivation for a player to get himself ready coming out of injury.
Also, Iowa lost two cornerbacks in the offseason. Redshirt freshman Torrey Campbell has quit football and will run track at the UI. Campbell didn't dent the depth chart. True freshman Kevin Buford played right away. He transferred. So, Iowa CB depth is dicey. It's not to the point that it would affect depth and/or who goes in for dime downs, but that's also assuming there aren't any injuries.
Competition: Lomax mentioned sophomore Sean Draper as his competition. Parker mentioned Draper. So, it's Draper and Lomax for the left corner job. Don't discount Draper. He was tentative early last season as a true freshman taking his first steps in giant stadiums. Toward the end of the year, he was regularly called on in nickel/dime situations. He has good size (6-0, 180) and has taken to the weightroom program.
"I have to keep watching film and get better," Lomax said. "Drape and I are competing for that spot. We're all trying to compete for that spot. Right now, we're just trying to get each other better. We've done that this spring. We've all made leaps, we've all improved a lot."
Why No. 21?: Lomax has a chance to be a starting corner. He probably should be higher. What makes this even more intriguing is the fact that Iowa admitted to throwing away from Lowery this spring. Whoever wins this corner spot could potentially see a lot of air traffic go his way this season.
Outlook: In early July, Lomax had his appendix out. It wasn't a chainsaw to the gut. Ferentz said it no incision was involved. Lomax isn't expected to miss much camp time (Iowa players report to IC on Sunday). Still, can this kid catch a break? Is he not now disaster-proof?
Parker referenced Lomax's intelligence and fundamentals. Normally, that could be enough to allow him to hang on at right corner. We're talking about two sophomores in Lomax and Draper. They'll be hungry and this should be one of Iowa's hotter contests in camp.Click here for an interactive look at the complete Top 45 series.