football notebook in iowa | Begins the work of the kidnapper, the holder for the catch

The departure of Caleb Shudak leaves Iowa with a competition in strikers, but special teams coordinator LeVar Woods is just as concerned about finding a replacement for Ryan Gersonde in the title.

Jerod Ringwald

Iowa special teams coach Levar Woods reacts to a game during a football game between Nr. 16 Iowa and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday, November 26, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers 28-21.


From a 100-yard comeback for a shot by Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year Charlie Jones to a blocked game return for a shot a week later, Iowa special teams units scored many highlights during the 2021 season. .

However, part of LeVar Woods’s press conference last week was devoted to the Iowa Special Teams Coordinator discussing a position that often goes unnoticed: the holder. The Hawkeyes are in the middle of a kick-off race following the departure of third-team All-American Caleb Shudak. Following the graduation of “unannounced” keeper Ryan Gersonde, Woods is also seeking a replacement for another aspect of Iowa’s goal unit.

“It’s a position most people do not think about,” Woods said. “Everyone blames the striker for a missed shot. “Well, if you go and look and look really closely, many times he is either out of the country, the inclination is not what the striker wants or what he expects when he hits the ball.”

New footballer Tory Taylor is “trying to be” the new starter, despite having little experience in this regard, said Woods, as well as reserve player Nick Phelps. Defender Cooper DeJean, a former high school defender who also held, was another Woods name mentioned for the job.

Woods said the ideal Iowa holder would have good hands and a sense of position “little fine art” – dots, tilts and threads – that affect hitting success.

“Every striker is different,” Woods said. “They all prefer a different kind of slope. Do they want forward or sideways? ”

The hit race in Iowa is likely to continue at the fall camp, Woods said, as well as the battle for the new holding location. Once the beginners are named at both points, the core group can work on their chemistry and refine their routine.

CONNECTED: Consistency is a key to defending Iowa football

The second student of the red shirts, Aaron Blom, was the initial player in the depth chart released at the start of the spring internships. Beginner Drew Stevens, the No. 10 player in Kohl’s Kicking Camps 2022 rankings and youngster Lucas Amaya will also be vying for the job. None of them have experience in starting college.

“I do not see anyone at the top or back at the moment,” Woods said.

Taylor strives for consistency

Elsewhere in the special teams, Taylor returns for his third season as a starter after breaking the program record with 3,688 yards (46.1 yards) last season.

The 24-year-old Australian joked that he might be the oldest student-athlete on campus. Despite having the age advantage over his teammates, Taylor is only entering the third year of the organized game of American football. However, Taylor is a veteran voice in the Iowa football building, a fact his coaches need to remind him of.

“Coaches will be like, ‘I know you do not want to, but sometimes you have no choice,'” Taylor said. “Which I take as a compliment, because it means the boys are watching me. It makes me feel good about myself. ”

Taylor likes to let his field play do that by talking for the most part.

Thirty-nine of Taylor’s 80 nails as a sophomore landed within the opponent’s 20-yard line, though this is a number that the entire Big Ten selection would like to go up.

“Just trying to minimize the gap between good and bad,” Taylor said. “From a point of view point of view, just trying to be more consistent.”

DeJean a versatile piece for Hawkeyes

DeJean’s first season in Iowa City was a busy season.

The former high school defender, who scored 132 career hits, entered the 2021 season confidently before moving on to defense. Eventually, DeJean saw time on special teams and added a role as the team scout wide receiver to his all-round list of responsibilities. Going into his second season, DeJean’s role seems to be expanding.

In the early spring, DeJean was ranked as the No. 2 corner defender, although he spent most of his time in practice in safety and “Cash”, a hybrid line / safety defensive position.

“It has been a learning process,” DeJean said. “I am still trying to get rid of them all. [Cash] it is very different. “I haven’t played for a long time as a full-back and that’s kind of where that position is, so it’s definitely a change, but I’ve learned a lot.”

On special teams, DeJean continues to train as a shooter and rebounder, a point he saw without time to play last season while also competing for the starting position.

“This is really what I came up with here, just trying to find a way to help the team and be part of helping us succeed,” DeJean said. “I just want to win the games.”

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