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NFL Draft Position Rankings: Defensive Tackle

By Kyle Hughes

Phil Taylor

 

Name College Height Weight Proj. Round
Nick Fairley Auburn 6’5 298 Top 5
Marcell Dareus Alabama 6’3 306 Top 10
Corey Liuget Illinois 6’3 300 1st round
Stephen Paea Oregon St. 6’1 300 late 1st-2nd
Phil Taylor Baylor 6’4 340 late 1st-2nd
Christian Ballard Iowa 6’5 297 late 1st-2nd
Drake Nevis LSU 6’2 285 2nd round
Muhammad Wilkerson Temple 6’5 305 2nd round
Jurrell Casey USC 6’1 305 2nd-3rd round
Marvin Austin North Carolina 6’3 310 3rd round

NFL Draft Position Rankings: Defensive End

By Kyle Hughes

Cameron Jordan

 

Name College Class Height Weight Proj. Round
Da’Quan Bowers Clemson Junior 6’4 280 Top 5
Cameron Jordan California Junior 6’4 283 1st round
Robert Quinn North Carolina Junior 6’5 270 1st round
Aldon Smith Missouri Sophomore 6’5 260 1st round
Ryan Kerrigan Purdue Senior 6’4 263 1st round
J.J. Watt Wisconsin Junior 6’6 286 Late 1st-Early 2nd
Adrian Clayborn Iowa Senior 6’3 282 Late 1st-Early 2nd
Cameron Heyward Ohio State Senior 6’5 288 2nd round
Allen Bailey Miami Senior 6’4 285 2nd round
Jeremy Beal Oklahoma Senior 6’3 267 2nd round

National Signing Day Was a Good Day For The Iowa Hawkeyes

By Nick Robertson

After what some would call a controversial and disappointing end to the 2010-2011 football season, many believed that the Hawkeyes would feel it most in their recruiting.

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz was optimistic about the 2011 Hawkeye recruits (photo: Liz Martin/The Gazette)

There were whispers of lost recruits and shortcomings because of the tensions in the locker room and program in general, which was topped of with several drug charges to top players and an exercising debacle that has yet to be sorted out. However, by the looks of the recruits that will be joining the Hawks in the spring, one might think we had won another Orange Bowl. During the national signing day press conference on Wednesday Kirk Ferentz seemed pleased and excited about the players who have committed to the University of Iowa.

A year ago when Marcus Coker signed his letter of intent to Iowa, little did we know about how much of a weapon he will be off the field. Two recruits from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland (former high school of Marcus Coker) is home to two commits, defensive lineman Darian Cooper and defensive back Jordan Lomax, as well as defensive back, Niko Law from Bishop McNamara High School, who is a close friend with both players. All three players were three or four star recruits. Kirk hinted at a possible pipeline from that area to the University of Iowa.

Ferentz talks about the challenges of recruiting on the east coast and the work done by linebackers coach Darrell Wilson in landing those players

Other notable commits were Ray Hamilton out of Strongsville, Ohio. Hamilton is a 6-3 235-pound tight end that will be a useful blocking and catching weapon.

Rodney Coe from Glen Carbon, Illinois, a 6-3 238-pound running back that has both speed and power.

Most notably Jake Rudock a 6-3 quarterback from Weston, Florida. He was named the 2010 Old Spice Player of the Year by, USA Today, as well as leading his team to a Florida State High School Championship in his senior year. “In many ways (Rudock) is a lot like Marcus Coker in what he brings to the table in ability and talent,” said Ferentz. The 2011 recruiting class brings the Hawkeye Football team a lot to look forward to in the future, but as we all know (as learned this year) potential is only good if you live up to it.

How do you feel about the new Hawkeyes? Leave us a reply and get in on the conversation.

Pat Forde Finds another Opportunity to Kick Iowa

By Sam Kienzle

Last week, I was as startled and concerned as much as the next Iowa Football follower to learn of the workout-related hospitalization of 13 Iowa Football players. I read player responses, reactions from all around the college football blogosphere, and reaction from UI officials.  I was—and am—upset that even one player was stricken with Rhabdomyolysis.  At the same time, my feelings of concern were accompanied by a sense that Iowa’s players are in genuine good health and that at times they practice under safe yet exhaustingly challenging conditions.

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz addressed the critiques at a Signing Day press conference (photo: Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group)

Ferentz says the Iowa football program implemented the workouts in question in Dec. 2000, June 2004, Dec. 2007 and again in Jan. 2011.  He also said  the workouts will not be repeated.

A few days later, I ran into a friend on the streets of Iowa City.  I asked him his opinion on the hospitalizations and what lead to it.  He’s a graduate student and former player who today specializes in personal training and has extensive knowledge in sports medicine.  More importantly, he experienced the ins and outs of Chris Doyle’s strength and conditioning program.  He told me that he thinks there was more to the case than just over-exertion, and that this whole situation is most likely an aberration.  I felt my own opinion on the matter buttressed by his experiences within the program.  That didn’t insulate me from feeling the sting of criticism directed at the program from around the country—especially from one CBS Sports writer who mulls the idea of firing head coach Kirk Ferentz.

While reading outrageous articles such as the aforementioned piece, the back of my mind started to whisper, “Controversy within the Iowa Football program.  It’s just a matter of time before espn.com Senior Writer Pat Forde rides in on his high horse.”  Sure enough, a few days later, I was right.  Before reading, I already knew the tone Forde would take, that it wouldn’t be one defending Kirk Ferentz.  After reading, I opine that from afar, Forde is trying to spin a web of instances dealing exclusively with Iowa’s 2010 discontent.  The top-10 preseason ranking, the DJK situation, failed big ten championship aspirations.  All of these, somehow, according to Forde, inspired the grueling workouts—despite the fact that numerous players, including Christian Ballard and Julian Vandervelde, have gone on record to state that Ferentz and Doyle do not punish players with workouts.  And Forde’s criticism of Doyle’s “let’s separate the men from the boys” tactics does not hold water.  In 12 years as head coach with Chris Doyle leading the Strength and Conditiong program, never have I or others I know who closely follow the Iowa program seriously likened Ferentz’s philosophies on workouts, practice activities (and the relative level of hostility directed at the players by the coaches during practices), and leadership to those of the screamer coaches— of the Nick Saban, Dan McCarney, and Bo Pelini varieties.

Forde calls the 100 squats routine at Iowa “barbaric.” Barbaric, that’s a stretch of a critique but not completely dismissible.  What’s not a stretch, by any means, is to call these types of activities common.  Maybe Forde should sit in on one of Saban’s summer workouts in Alabama’s 100-degree heat.  I did, by virtue of ESPN’s televised special on the Alabama program before the 2010 season.  There, Saban and his coaching staff routinely denounced the players’ perceived need (or desire) for water.  They prohibited players from mentioning the word “hot.”  And scream? Yes they did.  Push them to exhaustion?  Crush their spirits?  Build them back up like a drill sergeant?  Yes, of course.  How close his players—or any other players under hard-driving coaches—have come to Rhabdomyolysis, we’ll never know.  That’s because hard driving coaches and assistants exist everywhere, at every level.  That won’t stop Pat Forde, though, from cherry-picking the publicized hospitalization of 13 Iowa players.  Despite the fact that these types of brutal workouts happen in football—and definitely in other sports—once there’s blood in the water, you can bet Pat will be swimming through it like a shark.

So really, in my humble opinion, this piece isn’t so much about the hospitalization: It’s about Pat Forde.  While a gifted sports writer, I cannot seem to read a piece where he refers to Iowa football without finding something disparagingly or mockingly written about the program.  If it’s not the routine jab at Ferentz’s salary, it’s the criticism of Ferentz’s late game decisions against Ohio State in 2009.  It’s the characterization of the 2009 team as a weak pretender when they were winning last-second games on the way to a 9-0 start.  It was the relentless jabs at Ferentz and the team during the struggling 2005-2007 years.  Even more ridiculous, whenever one might expect Forde to eat a bit of crow after an impressive Iowa victory (2010 Orange Bowl, 2010 Insight Bowl) and give a shred of credit to Ferentz, the words that follow are brief, if they exist at all.  If Forde’s not silent after a vindicating Iowa victory (and there have been many over the last three years), he’s criticizing the other team for being soft.  It’s never Ferentz who is the victor; it’s always the other team who is the loser—who gave the victory to these seemingly fortunate Hawkeyes.

I suppose that the injustice of an overpaid head coach is enough to motivate Forde to go after Iowa, even in instances when his foot is too wide for the space in the door.  It’s enough for him to recklessly and loosely attempt to take every flaw, mistake, and disappointment of Ferentz and the Iowa Athletic Department during 2010 and paint a mosaic of a dysfunctional program headed by a rich underachiever.  In Forde’s mind, every aspect supposedly lacking under Ferentz—whether it’s his last-second victories, his lead-footed players, or his predictable offense—is exacerbated by his big checks.  Because winning is easy enough, it seems.  Someone paid that well must win in style.

I understand the severity of the player hospitalizations.  I worry about their future health and their future football careers.  I would accept, although somewhat sadly, the firing of one of Doyle’s underlings for public relations’ sake.  I cannot, however, accept the unfair scrutiny dumped upon Ferentz by Pat Forde, even though it undoubtedly will continue.  Because even when I read CBS Sports’ fodder calling for Ferentz’s job, I categorize it as a radical opinion I vehemently disagree with, but not one that reflects an agenda.  Thanks for reading!

What do you think? Did Kirk Ferentz do enough? Are Pat Forde’s comments fair? Leave us a reply and get in on the conversation.

Just Like Football: Iowa downs Michigan State

By: Mike Rabon

 

Devon Archie swats a Kalin Lucas lay-up (Cliff Jette/Sourcemedia Group via the Cedar Rapids Gazette)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chants of “just like football” reverberated through Carver-Hawkeye Arena Wednesday night as the Hawkeyes put the finishing touches on a declining Spartan squad 72-52.  Just like football, Iowa jumped to a seemingly insurmountable lead in the early stages of the game.  At halftime on October 30th, 2010 in Kinnick Stadium, Iowa led powerhouse Michigan State 30-0.  The Spartan basketball team managed to record points but the feeling was the same as they trailed 41-20 as the buzzer sounded to conclude the first half.

Michigan State turned the ball over on consecutive possessions to start the game and Iowa took advantage by capitalizing with a Matt Gatens 3 pointer and an Eric May jump shot.  Reserve Center Derrick Nix returned the favor by scoring a lay-up on Jarryd Cole and then the floodgates opened.  A variety of buckets and efficient distribution of the basketball facilitated a 25-6 run for the Hawkeyes.  30-8 read the score with 7:41 left in the first half and surely Tom Izzo’s Spartans were stunned at the determined effort of Fran McCaffery’s bunch.

The Hawkeyes were playing as if they were “mad again” and this was manifest in the 65.5% first half shooting.  In a timely fashion, the Iowa defense rotated effectively in the 2-3 zone and held the Spartans scoreless from beyond the 3 point line after 20 minutes of play.

Playing well in the first half is nothing new for this Hawkeye team in 2010-2011.  Competitive first half performances against Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa State, just to name a few, always lead to the inevitable second half collapse.  In this game, the storyline was different.  Cole, May, Cartwright and Gatens rallied early in the second half to avoid a letdown.  A lay-up by Jarrd Cole and a break away dunk from Matt Gatens secured a 56-30 lead for the Hawkeyes 6 minutes into the second half.  This deficit was the largest of the season for the vapid Spartans.

Draymond Green momentarily employed his strength and athleticism with a lay-up and a 3 pointer, which forced Fran McCaffery to burn a timeout.  This demonstration was, unfortunately for Michigan State, ephemeral in nature.  Gatens, Cartwright and May punished the Spartans in an 8-0 run making the score 70-47 with 4:33 left in the game.

As the time expired, Hawkeye fans who battled the elements to enjoy one more Big Ten basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena stood tall and cheered proudly as the team celebrated with students underneath the basket on newly dubbed Mediacom Court.

Gatens ended the game with 19 points to lead all scorers and 3 other Hawkeyes scored in double-digits.  Bryce Cartwright ended his stellar performance with 10 assists to only 4 turnovers.  Jarryd Cole just missed a double-double as he recorded 13 points (6-6 FG) and 9 rebounds.

While the celebration was underway in Iowa City, Tom Izzo was melancholic and downright disturbed by his team’s performance.

“Well I think that was the worst performance of a team that I’ve coached since I’ve been at Michigan State. I didn’t feel our best players played very well and then we tried to rely on other people,” Izzo quietly said.

The dichotomy was apparent after listening to Fran McCaffery say, “This is our most complete game without question at both ends.”

Michigan State, a preseason top 5 program, has now fallen to 13-9 overall and 5-5 in Big Ten play.   While there is still hope for an NCAA tournament bid in East Lansing, much work and an overhaul in team leadership will have to take place.

“You know, I’m going to make some changes probably. There is going to be some guys that are going to have to grow up. I’m very disappointed with the leadership with this team,” Izzo reiterated in the post game press conference.

Meanwhile, Iowa is still in the beginning stages of a massive rebuilding job but McCaffery was ecstatic about the performance of point guard Bryce Cartwright.

McCaffery praised Cartwright by saying, “He always was a scorer and he could play point and get the ball in the lane. But there’s a lot more to being a point guard, especially at this level, and I’m really proud of him and how hard he’s worked.”

The Iowa Hawkeyes are 9-13 overall and 2-8 in Big Ten play but everyone watching this program closely can see the daily progress of Coach McCaffery and his veteran staff on this dilapidated program.

Iowa will travel to Bloomington on Saturday to face an Indiana Hoosier team they defeated handily in Iowa City 91-77 just a short time ago.  The Hoosiers have upset two ranked teams in a row at Assembly Hall, Illinois and Minnesota, and lost a 1 point heartbreaker in East Lansing to the Spartans in overtime.  The game will tip-off at 3pm Saturday and both teams will come in fresh off of signature program victories.

Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling Riding High, but still Beatable

By Kif Richmann

The Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team went on a little trip this weekend, first to Evanston, Ill., and then to University Park Penn to face the #1 Nittany Lions.

Two weeks before the Hawkeyes were down, having tied Oklahoma State in Stillwater and snapping a 69 dual meet winning streak.  Things were looking a little bleak for the three time defending championship Hawkeyes.

The return of Montell Marion has given Iowa a boost at both 141 and 149. Marion is now ranked #3 after this weekend's win. (photo via thegazette.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the road trip, Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands visited the KRUI studio and talked about the return of Montell Marion

Two weeks later, and the wrestling world has been put on notice: after beating Cael Sanderson’s Nittany Lions, the Hawkeyes are at the top of their game, and with the addition of Montell Marion at 141, Iowa expects to beat anyone, anywhere.

But they are still vulnerable.

While Marion’s return to the lineup has give the Hawkeye’s an immediate jump start, it should be noted that Mark Ballweg was doing a decent job at 141 before Sunday’s meet at Penn State and will now be a boost at 149.  He had wrestled aggressively against all competitors, and even raked up a few impressive wins, including a decision over retrurning all-American Chris Drouin of Iowa State.  Mark had wrestled so well, in fact, that Tom Brands bumped him up to the 149 spot in the Penn State dual.

Although he lost to #5 Frank Molinaro in Pennsylvania, Mark Ballweg should be competitive at 149 as soon as he gets comfortable in the weight class.  (Mark Ballweg replaced his older brother Matt, who has struggled at 149 this season.)

While Iowa’s 125 lb stud and returning national champion Matt McDonough appears to be on the charge, having accumulated 3 pins in a row. But there is still a question of how he will fare if he again faces Brandon Precin of Northwestern.  Precin beat him in at the Midlands Championships, and was beating McDonough 3-0 with riding time in this weekend’s dual when McDonough stuck him for the pin in the 3rd period.

The pin looks great, but it appears that Precin can score on McDonough, something few wrestlers can claim.

Tony Ramos is on fire at 133, and after beating then #5 Andrew Long of Penn State, Ramos has been bumped up into the #8 individual ranking for intermat.com.

Derek St. John, however, has yet to find his rhythm.  The current Intermat #9 at 157 has been hot and cold all season, and St. John was given a loss by major decision against fellow freshman David Taylor of  PSU.  If St. John doesn’t pick it up soon, 157 could be a hole in the Hawkeye’s title chances.

Grant Gambrall also had a good weekend, going 2-0 on the road trip, which included an 8-3 win over Quintin Wright of Penn State.  Gambrall took advantage of a banged up Wright who came to the mat on Sunday with a wrap around one shoulder.  Although Wright outranked  Gambrall before the weekend, Gambrall and Wright are now 13 and 14 respectively, according to Intermat.

With the Hawkeyes riding high after beating the #1 team in the country, Tom Brands will be expecting big things from his wrestlers.  But while beating Sanderson and company is a nice feather in the cap, it’s all a buildup to the national championships in March.

How do you think the Hawkeyes will fare in March? Give us a reply and get in on the conversation.

NBA All-Star Game Voting Needs Re-tooling

By Jordan Underwood

Well it’s that time if year again when the exuberant fans of the NBA get to express who they want to see represent their conference.

I am of course talking about the All-Star game in Los Angeles, California.

Despite averaging 10 pts and 5 rebounds, Yao Ming was chosen to face off at center against Dwight Howard of the Orland Magic (photo via life.com)

With the starters being announced on January 27th and the reserves to follow later, it is apparent that the fans know what they are doing in some regards, but they mostly fail in the grand scheme of voting for all-stars. Now I am not saying that the fans should not have a say in who gets to go to the all-star game every year, however, I believe that we have given way too much power to the fans to decide and have just accepted their choices as what the people really want.

With that being said, the starters for each conference’s team are as follows: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and Yao Ming for the Western Conference and DeWayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Lebron James, Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire for the Eastern Conference.

So let us begin analyzing the Western Conference starters. I can live with the fact that Kobe, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant are in the starting lineup because over the first half of the season, they have close to, if not the best at their position. Carmelo Anthony is playing fairly well this year (besides dragging the Nuggets and all of their fans through a roller coaster ride dubbed MeloDrama), however, I feel that there are a few other players who should be in the forward spot beside Kevin Durant.

First and foremost is Dirk Nowitzki. Before his injury, Nowitzki was putting up numbers better than what he did in his 2007 MVP campaign.  As of right now, he is averaging 23.1 points per game (a little down from last year but remember the injury), 6.8 rebounds per game, and 2.5 assists per game while upping his field goal percentage to 52.2% and three-point percentage to 40%.

Fans chose forward Carmelo Anthony (right) over Dirk Nowitzki for the Western Conference All-Star starting lineup (photo via life.com)

The next worthy candidate for this spot is Pau Gasol. He is averaging a double double with 18.1 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game while shooting 51.5% from the field. Pau was a staple in the Lakers second consecutive championship and he carried that momentum into this season where he is clearly a focal point to the Laker’s offense.

Well that brings us to the worst pick in this year’s all-star game, Yao Ming. His stat line is . . .oh wait it is a meaningless 10 points and 5 rebounds per game because he has only played in five games all season due to injury!! I do not know how the fans could have screwed this one up as badly as they did but here we are and now it will be the coaches’ decision to choose a starting center.

The best possible choices as I see it right now would have to be Kevin Love, Emeka Okefor, or Tyson Chandler with some other possibilities, but no clear cut winner.

With the West complete, let’s move to the East.

In retrospect, the fans got a majority of these picks right. They all deserve to be starters and the controversial picks of Amare over Kevin Garnett and Derrick Rose, who should be high up in the MVP voting later on in the season, over Rajon Rando were excellent choices in my mind.

Overall, good job on the eastern conference, fans.

With my piece being said I must make note of how I think changes should be made (be they right or wrong). I believe that the fans voting is a crucial part to the NBA All-Star game, however, with the constant mishaps in their voting, I feel there is a better way to use fan voting.

The votes should count, but to a lesser extent. That way the fans get to see who they want to see and the players that deserve to be there are there and noone makes it based solely on popularity (yes, I am looking in your direction Allen Iverson). Would a change come quickly? I do not think so, however, it is clear that something needs to be done, whether that is minor or major, in order to fix the process.

All stats via various team websites and NBA.com

What do you think? Did the fans get it right? Leave us a reply and get in on the conversation.

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