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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Iowa
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  07/17/21 - Jack CampbellJr/2023, Iowa, 6-4, 243 (DS#999 ILB) + More +

  This year, there isn't anything hold Campbell back. He entered the offseason with a clean bill of health, successfully completed spring practice and summer workouts. Now, he figures to play a starring role on Iowa's defense as starting weakside linebacker. He, and the other Iowa linebackers focused on increasing position versatility during the off-season. "That was a big thing during spring ball," Campbell said. "Being able to move guys around is so beneficial. I'm just continuing to learn and develop myself at other positions so I can bounce around." Campbell has fully embraced the developmental process at Iowa. When he arrived as a freshman in 2019, he weighed about 208 pounds. Today, he's around 245 pounds. "It's hard to not get stronger when you come here," Campbell said. "I've seen that in all my lifts, my jumps, the way I run has all improved dramatically. That day-by-day mentality and controlling what you can control and doing things away from the facility that will benefit you."

Wallace likened his size to another position on the defense. "In a lot of ways, Jack Campbell is a defensive lineman at the second level," Wallace said. "With his physicality and his presence." With that said, it's clear the Iowa coaches believe Campbell is a multi-purpose weapon for the defense. "I see myself as a guy that's willing do to anything," Campbell said. "I'd describe as fearless when I'm on the field. Also as a player I've been trying to work on taking mental break on the sideline and kind of reset, then next time go out and really hone in on the smaller details that'll help me in the game." - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#999 ILB) Jr/2023 ILB Jack CampbellIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  07/16/21 - Sam LaPortaJr/2023, Iowa, 6-4, 249 (DS#8 TE) + More +

  Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta has proven to be a reliable target over the past two seasons. After starting only two games in 2019, he emerged as a full-time starter last year. He led the team in catches (27) and was second in receiving yards yards (271). With 20 career games and seven starts under his belt, LaPorta is a veteran on offense. His experience will be counted on heavily this year with several young, inexperienced tight ends behind him on the depth chart. In year three of Brian Ferentz's offense, LaPorta is more comfortable than ever in his role. He believes he can make an impact regardless of the game situation. "I think I see myself as a really versatile guy," LaPorta said. "I've been telling people that I can have a great game whether I have no catches or 10 catches. "Running is a huge part of our offense; we like to pound the rock. I think I've progressed as a blocker and a pass-catcher. I've gotten a lot of reps in spring ball and seen a lot of game action, so that's helping me."

LaPorta's pass-catching abilities are not in question. The goal in 2021 is emerging as that all-around tight end that Iowa's grown accustomed to over head coach Kirk Ferentz's tenure. So far this offseason, LaPorta has stepped up as a leader and showcased the ability to impact the game in multiple ways. "He's definitely an all-around tight end," quarterback Spencer Petras said. "He knows how to block. He's extremely physical and really tough. I also think he's really good at running routes and, if he catches the ball, can make plays after the catch." - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#8 TE) Jr/2023 TE Sam LaPortaIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  07/10/21 - Xavior WilliamsrSr/2022, Iowa, 5-11, 184 (DS#38 CB) + More +

  At cornerback, Hankins and Moss have been starters since 2018. Koerner has started since 2019 and Kaevon Merriweather is the newest starter to the group, taking on the strong safety role last season. The five have a combined 68 starts among them. And behind them, Parker is excited about the secondary's depth and the versatility to line players up in different spots. "We'll have some guys I think with flexibility of playing different positions," Parker said. "I see a lot of growth with some guys in the backend with (Sebastian Castro), (Jermari Harris) has done a good job and Terry Roberts has really stepped up at corner. "So the depth is kind of back. I know we have Matt and Riley at corner, but I think it'll be interesting to see how it all pans out. But I think we're in a good spot."

And the Hawkeyes are getting some help from the portal. Cornerback Xavior Williams, a Burlington native, transferred to Iowa from Northern Iowa as a graduate transfer. In three years there, he was a three-year starter and was a first team all-Missouri Valley Conference selection in 2018 and 2019. "(Xavior brings) leadership," Moss said. "He's very, very athletic. He broke the vertical (jump) record in his first three weeks being here. He's a great kid. He's one of my best friends and brings a lot to the (defensive backs) room. "He's a veteran too. Even though he's a transfer he knows how all of it works, how to prepare and watch film. He brings a lot to the table." - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#38 CB) rSr/2022 CB Xavior WilliamsIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  07/03/21 - Tyrone Tracy Jr.rJr/2023, Iowa, 5-11, 203 (DS#65 WR) + More +

  Today, July 1, marks the first day where student-athletes can profit from their name, image and likeness. Wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr., a member of the Hawkeyes football team, has announced his first personal venture under the new NIL era. Tracy announced via his Twitter account that he has agreed to a partnership with Yoke Gaming, an app that allows people to play video games with notable athletes around the country and the world. Now, since the NIL changes, that includes collegiate athletes. - Iowa City Press-Citizen

(DS#65 WR) rJr/2023 WR Tyrone Tracy Jr.Iowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  06/28/21 - Spencer PetrasrJr/2023, Iowa, 6-5, 231 (DS#23 QB) + More +

  When junior quarterback Spencer Petras addressed the media this past spring, he said he didn't care what the fans thought, he's going to get better. "No offense to the fans, but I could (not) care less about what they have to say about our performance," Petras said in April. "I'm focused on improving and having a great spring." Like any young quarterback, he's under a microscope, but this year he has more time to prepare for his second season as the leader of Iowa's offense. "I will say his timing is better, his leadership is better, accuracy is better," junior wide receiver Tyrone Tracy said Tuesday. "Last year he kind of was timid, he really didn't command the field, but I feel like this year, he's definitely gaining the respect of his teammates. He's one of the hardest workers, so I feel like that's another way he's going to gain a lot of respect."

Tracy added Petras has been passing to him three to four times a week during the past three weeks of summer conditioning, and as the new leader of the wide receiving corps has focused his energy on strengthening that chemistry off the field. Part of that, senior wide receiver Nico Ragaini adds, is taking advantage of the communication they didn't have last offseason. "Sometimes routes don't look the way he wants them to look and we talk about it," Ragaini said. "It helps just knowing what each other wants and how to get the ball." - The Gazette


(DS#23 QB) rJr/2023 QB Spencer PetrasIowa
News Source: The Gazette
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  06/26/21 - Tyrone Tracy Jr.rJr/2023, Iowa, 5-11, 203 (DS#65 WR) + More +

  Iowa wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr., knows he's been deprived of his rights as a U.S. citizen. He has nine allies in the U.S. Supreme Court. "Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote last week in the Court's unanimous opinion in antitrust case NCAA v. Alston. "And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different.

Tracy is a junior who would do well for himself if he had NIL rights this year. He's a dynamic player who said in no uncertain terms Tuesday that he wanted to be the Big Ten's top receiver and Iowa's first 1,000-yard receiver in the last 10 years. He also knows the chance to make some money off his own name may be his before his college career is over. "The reason I'm on board is I feel in college, a lot of people's names are bigger than when they're out of college," Tracy said. "So I feel like if you can make money right now, you should be able to because your next step when you get out of college, you don't know what's going to happen." - The Gazette


(DS#65 WR) rJr/2023 WR Tyrone Tracy Jr.Iowa
News Source: The Gazette
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  06/23/21 - Nico RagainirJr/2023, Iowa, 5-11, 193 (DS#999 WR) + More +

  From late March through early May, Iowa's football team took part in spring practice in their first steps to return to normalcy in 2021. But they did it largely without one of their key players on offense. Wide receiver Nico Ragaini missed spring practice due to injury. However, the redshirt junior is healthy now and prepared to take part in the next phase of summer conditioning starting on Tuesday. "I had a little bit of a back problem," Ragaini said. "I've been working out again, I'm cleared and a full go, so I'm excited to get going again. "We start up 7-on-7 and all of that stuff (Wednesday) so we're all excited for that to happen; start throwing the football around and stuff so it should be exciting." Ragaini's presence will be a welcomed addition to an Iowa receiving corps that lost it's top two wide receivers from last season in Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Ragaini isn't lacking in experience, with 24 career games and 65 receptions in his Hawkeye career. He has primarily worked out of the slot, but Iowa coaches will likely lean on the veteran this fall. He's more than fine with that. "That's always the goal to be the No. 1, go-to guy," Ragaini said. "Just want to make (quarterback Spencer Petras) as connected to me as he possibly can and have all the trust in me to throw me the ball in a third down when we need to move the sticks. "I just have to keep working and building up the chemistry with Spencer and the other quarterbacks to be that go-to guy." - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#999 WR) rJr/2023 WR Nico RagainiIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  06/11/21 - Zach VanValkenburgrSr/2022, Iowa, 6-3, 270 (DS#30 DE) + More +

  Iowa returns second-team All-Big Ten senior defensive lineman Zach VanValkenburg on the edge. VanValkenburg tied for first nationally with four fumble recoveries last season and tallied 30 tackles, including 14 solo, 8.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. During the spring, Iowa defensive line coach Kelvin Bell said the older guys up front, including VanValkenburg and juniors Noah Shannon and John Waggoner are the current leaders of the group. Junior Joe Evans, a former walk-on, was also put on scholarship in 2020 for his performance. Having spring football back was something noted as an advantage going into this season as opposed to last. It took Iowa a few games to build consistency on the line last year.

"By the time you start in fall camp, it had been a whole year since we played and we were rusty," VanValkenburg said following the final spring practice on May 1. "No matter how many drills you do on your own, nothing can simulate full contact like football. You get a lot better cohesion when you're able to practice together." This offseason, VanValkenburg said he's been working on better flipping his hips to the outside in his blocking to garner more power and control in fending off blockers on the edge. He hopes he can become more consistent on either side. - The Gazette


(DS#30 DE) rSr/2022 DE Zach VanValkenburgIowa
News Source: The Gazette
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  05/14/21 - Spencer PetrasrJr/2023, Iowa, 6-5, 231 (DS#23 QB) + More +

  A private coach who is working with Spencer Petras over the next week on the East Coast thinks Iowa's presumed starting quarterback is poised to take a big step forward this season for the Hawkeyes. "I see big things coming for him," Tony Racioppi said Thursday. Racioppi is in his eighth year as a quarterback guru at the TEST Football Academy in Martinsville, New Jersey - not far from the campus at Rutgers. A former Division III passing star at Rowan College, Racioppi also is a primary counselor at the famous Manning Passing Academy every summer and said he's had 25 of his quarterbacks sign in the NFL.

One of those quarterbacks is three-year Iowa starter Nate Stanley, who Racioppi worked with ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft. Stanley's connection to Racioppi led to Petras' trip out East. Another half-dozen or so FBS quarterbacks are also being trained by Racioppi this week, as spring practices have wrapped up nationwide. And now hungry signal callers like Petras are soaking up supplemental training. In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Racioppi said he wanted to make clear that Petras' hiring him shouldn't be seen as a knock on the Iowa coaching staff. In fact, Racioppi said he and Iowa quarterbacks coach Ken O'Keefe are in regular contact. Racioppi also coaches a Class of 2023 quarterback, Marco Lainez, that Iowa has offered. "(Petras) is trying to find ways to make himself better," Racioppi said. "Coach O'Keefe lets me know what stuff he wants him to get better at, and that's what we'll do." - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#23 QB) rJr/2023 QB Spencer PetrasIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  05/08/21 - Jake KarchinskirSo/2024, Iowa, 6-3, 279 (DS#999 DT) + More +

  An Iowa defensive lineman has entered the transfer portal. Jake Karchinski, a former three-star recruit in the Hawkeyes' 2019 class, announced via Twitter that he had entered the NCAA's transfer portal on Thursday. Karchinski, a product of Depere, Wisconsin, redshirted his freshman season and didn't see any game action last year. Karchinski is the second Iowa lineman to enter the transfer portal in the past month. Offensive lineman Noah Fenske, also a three-star 2019 recruit entered the portal on April 12 and committed to Colorado a few days later. - Iowa City Press-Citizen

(DS#999 DT) rSo/2024 DT Jake KarchinskiIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  05/04/21 - Nick NiemannrSr/2021, Iowa, 6-3, 234 (DS#19 OLB) + More +

  Nick Niemann was pulled off the Iowa bench in the thick of the 2019 Holiday Bowl, as USC quarterback Kedon Slovis was taking advantage of weak-side linebacker Djimon Colbert with his throws. Niemann settled down Iowa's defense in a back-and-forth game, and the son of Hawkeyes assistant coach Jay Niemann punctuated a 49-24 win against the Trojans by returning an interception for a touchdown.

That seemed to launch Niemann into a starring role as a fifth-year senior, and now he's done enough to get selected in the NFL Draft. The Hawkeye linebacker was taken with the first pick of the sixth round by the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday. It's a great opportunity for Niemann, as the Chargers have a new defensive-minded head coach in Brandon Staley. Niemann (6-foot-3, 234 pounds) is just the second Iowa linebacker chosen in the last seven NFL drafts, joining Josey Jewell in 2017. He is the ninth linebacker of the coach Kirk Ferentz era to be drafted, following past names like Chad Greenway, Abdul Hodge, Pat Angerer, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirskey. - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#19 OLB) rSr/2021 OLB Nick NiemannIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  04/29/21 - Tyler LinderbaumrJr/2023, Iowa, 6-2, 289 (DS#1 C) + More +

  Linderbaum was one of three Rimington Trophy finalists last season as college football's most dominant center. He easily could've turned pro; a mid-second-round pick (which he was projected to be) is in line for a four-year rookie contract worth between $6 million and $7 million. But instead of assuredly hearing his name called in the NFL Draft (which begins Thursday), Linderbaum was content to be leading the Hawkeyes' offensive line into another season. "I wasn't interested," Linderbaum flatly said Tuesday.

The Solon native was so confident in returning to Iowa City that he didn't even request feedback from the College Advisory Committee, a service that helps draft-eligible underclassmen know where they stand in the eyes of NFL executives and scouts. "I wanted to compete with my buddies," Linderbaum said. "There's a lot more to do, a lot more to improve on...I was coming back for sure." As you can tell, Linderbaum wasn't wild about delving too deeply into this subject. He seemed more focused on stiff-arming media attention that will continue to come his way. "A big thing for me is just to focus on the program and my teammates," Linderbaum said. "I really am not interested in what's going around outside, what media are saying, what other people are saying." - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#1 C) rJr/2023 C Tyler LinderbaumIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  04/24/21 - Jack CampbellJr/2023, Iowa, 6-4, 243 (DS#999 ILB) + More +

  Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Iowa linebackers coach Seth Wallace said there's separation between his starting trio of Jack Campbell, Seth Benson and Jestin Jacobs and the rest of his 12-man linebacker group. Of those 12, only Campbell and Benson have more than 100 game reps on defense. So, without a great deal of depth, Wallace is looking to foster as much positional flexibility with Campbell, Benson and Jacobs as possible. How? Wallace said that, during certain parts of practice, he'll make his three linebackers rotate positions after each play so they can develop more versatile skills and see the field from different perspectives. His goal is to create three linebackers who can all adjust their game, depending on the opponent's scheme.

Campbell recorded 29 tackles, 3.5 solo tackles for loss and an interception last year. A four-star Cedar Falls product who picked the Hawkeyes over Iowa State in the 2019 class, Campbell has long been seen as a future star on Iowa's defense. He was named to the Register's All-Iowa Elite Team as a junior and senior, which is a rare feat. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has previously described Campbell as the type of player with an "extra heartbeat," something he also said about Josey Jewell. "There's something extra there," Wallace said. "You just turn on the tape and watch the way that he practices. It's clear that there is a motor, there's a little bit of something tugging at his heart to get to the ball. We're anxious to get him back out there hopefully in a normal year and get back at it and see what he can do." - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#999 ILB) Jr/2023 ILB Jack CampbellIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  04/23/21 - Sam LaPortaJr/2023, Iowa, 6-4, 249 (DS#8 TE) + More +

  It's hard to believe that Iowa's third-year tight end, the one who will likely have an NFL Draft decision to make eight or nine months from now, is experiencing his first spring football practices at the college level. Yet Sam LaPorta has taken full advantage of his developmental time at Iowa. That's been evident on the field, as he was the Hawkeyes' leader with 27 receptions in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. And it's apparent when the small-town, southern Illinois product speaks about his 22 months on campus in Iowa City.

"The developmental program that Iowa is, it's definitely a slow-build sort of process," LaPorta said Tuesday, in one of the more engaging Zoom sessions of the past year in Iowa football. "My freshman year I sort of look back now and (think), 'Oh my goodness, how could I have done those things?' Even with this past season, I look back and (realize) I've had that look three or four times now in spring ball. And I'm not messing that up anymore, the way that I messed that up in the season. "Getting that experience and getting the reps is what makes the difference in the fall." LaPorta sounds (and looks) mature enough to handle being one of the most important factors in the Hawkeyes' 2021 offense. With last year's No. 2 tight end, Shaun Beyer, off to the NFL (with the potential to get drafted), the Hawkeyes are inexperienced behind LaPorta, who at age 20 in this young group qualifies as a seasoned veteran. - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#8 TE) Jr/2023 TE Sam LaPortaIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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  04/20/21 - Xavior WilliamsrSr/2022, Iowa, 5-11, 184 (DS#38 CB) + More +

  It's difficult to know where Williams is on the depth chart because Terry Roberts and Matt Hankins - two of the four corners on the spring depth chart - didn't practice. But, at least on Saturday, Williams, the 5-11, 190-pound UNI transfer appeared to be Iowa's second-team right cornerback, with Brenden Deasfernandes at left cornerback. Ferentz said Williams brings a veteran presence and is "not overwhelmed" even though he's learning a new defense. Still, he is like a true freshman in the sense that he is learning a new defense. And he had an injury in the winter, which set back his physical offseason progression.

For those reasons, Ferentz said it's not fair to judge Williams and project his role based on Saturday's open practice. "I don't think you saw today probably what you're going to see in August (from Williams)," Ferentz said. "I think he's got a chance to really help our football team." Williams' receivers were rarely targeted so he wasn't very noticeable during the scrimmage. (Meaning he didn't make any big errors, either.) He left the field a little over midway through the scrimmage. He stood on the sideline with his helmet off for the rest of the scrimmage and walked with a small limp. - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#38 CB) rSr/2022 CB Xavior WilliamsIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen
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