2019 Football Preview: Linebackers
We continue our look at the 2019 Iowa Hawkeyes, this time with the linebackers.
Returners - 2018 Statistics:
Amani Jones, Senior - 15 Solo Tackles, 7 Assists, 1 Sack
Kristian Welch, Senior - 26 Solo Tackles, 23 Assists, 1.5 Sacks, 1 Interception, 1 Pass Deflection, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovered
Nick Niemann, Junior - 18 Solo Tackles, 25 Assists, 1 Sack
Barrington Wade, Junior - 1 Solo Tackle, 2 Assists
Djimon Colbert, Sophomore - 25 Solo Tackles, 27 Assists, 1 Pass Deflection
Dillon Doyle, Redshirt Freshman - 2 Assists
Nick Anderson, Senior
Logan Klemp, Redshirt Freshman
Seth Benson, Redshirt Freshman
Monte Pottebaum, Redshirt Freshman
Mitch Riggs, Redshirt Freshman
Jayden McDonald, Redshirt Freshman
Mike Timm, Redshirt Freshman
Joe Evans, Redshirt Freshman
Departures - 2018 Statistics:
Jack Hockaday - 24 Solo Tackles, 38 Assists, 2 Pass Deflections, 1 Fumble Recovery
Aaron Mends (Transfer)
Jestin Jacobs - Englewood, Ohio
Jack Campbell - Cedar Falls, Iowa
Yahweh Jeudy - Pompano Beach, Florida
Outlook at the Position: Iowa's linebackers are never a concern, and this year should be no different. Iowa returns much of its production from a year ago, with the departure of Jack Hockaday being the only production lost from a solid 2018 linebacker crew. Kristian Welch, Djimon Colbert, and Nick Niemann are listed as the starters entering Fall Training Camp and will likely be the heavy favorites to enter the season as the starting linebackers.
Production out of this group could be down slightly from a year ago, as Iowa has shown indications of continuing the use of a 5th defensive back in their base defense, a position that they refer to as "Cash", and was the position that Amani Hooker occupied for much of the 2018 campaign. Despite the modification to the base defensive alignment, I expect Welch, Colbert, and Niemann to all play significant roles as a platoon depending on matchups and opposing personnel and anchoring what I expect to be a solid to outstanding defensive unit for Iowa.
Potential Emerging Contributors: With so much production returning from a year ago, I don't see a young guy announcing himself this season. However, I think there are a number of guys that could make significant impacts before their Iowa careers are over. At the top of this list are Dillon Doyle and Jestin Jacobs.
Doyle is an obvious pick to be a success at Iowa. His father is Iowa Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Doyle and redshirted his first year on campus. The transition to Iowa's strength program was likely an easy one, and I expect Doyle to have spent much of his time during his redshirt season learning the defense. Should injuries strike this group, Doyle would be my pick to make an immediate impact. In the meantime, I expect to hear Doyle's name making plays on special teams and contributing in any way he can.
Jacobs was one of the most highly touted recruits in Iowa's 2019 recruiting class. An Army All-American and 4-star outside linebacker from Ohio, Jacobs was impressive in high school. He showed thr ability to fight through blockers, keep plays contained, and finish tackles in the open field. With so many talented linebackers in the room, I would expect Jacobs to get opportunities in mop up duty or special teams during 4 games this season, redshirt, and compete with Doyle to replace Welch next season.
Next Up: Iowa's 2019 Defensive Backs, Kick Returners, and Punt Returners
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As always, On Iowa! and Go Hawks!
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