Kirk Ferentz said recently that the Iowa Hawkeyes don't "reload" and explaining that Iowa is just "not one of those schools." That may be true. Iowa doesn't have the ability to recruit a slew of 5-star players every year. What the Hawkeyes do, though, is develop players who seemingly come out of nowhere to have great success. Whether it's a walk-on earning a scholarship and excelling in his senior year, or a 3-star redshirt freshman earning a starting spot over 5-star seniors...Iowa has breakout performances every season. Now, with spring practice right around the corner, there's no better time to start making prediction for the 2010 season. So here's my prediction for the breakout performers this year.

James Ferentz - When you are the coach's son, you can never really rise from anonymity...everyone already knows who you are. Though, at this point in his career, Ferentz is better known for his fondness of fine ale than his performance on the field. Hopefully those days are behind him and he can focus on playing football.

The center position is wide open this year with the graduation of Rafael Eubanks, who had a lock on the spot last year, and I think Ferentz is poised to win the starting job. For starters, his dad is offensive line expert Kirk Ferentz, which has to count for something. I also keep hearing about Ferentz's skills as a lineman. I remember reading somewhere (though my Google skills have failed me in finding a link) that his high school coach said that James was the best offensive lineman he had ever coached...even better than his brother Brian, who had a pretty good career at Iowa himself. More recently (and I did find a link) Norm Parker mentioned that Ferentz has been a standout in practice.

Of course, though, Ferentz will have a strong competitor in Josh Koeppel, who is also eying the starting spot. Koeppel will be a senior and was listed as the 2nd string last year, so it may actually be his spot to lose. Still, I'm looking for Ferentz to be the guy for the Hawkeyes.

3 more guesses -
  • Allen Reisner - Reisner has gotten quite a bit of experience the past couple of seasons, but was backing up two fantastic tightends, Meyers and Meoaki. This year will be his to shine.
  • Keenan Davis - I really think Davis may need 1 more year before he breaks out, but he should be able to move up to the 3rd receiver behind DJK and McNutt.
  • Brad Rogers - Rogers may be a year away like Davis, but I think he has a chance to emerge as either the short yardage back or challenge Morse for some playing time at fullback.

Karl Klug - Klug started at defensive tackle all year last year but was largely overshadowed by the other defensive linemen...particularly Adrian Clayborn. Klug actually put up decent stats too with 22 tackles, including 13 for loss and 4 sacks. He was an honorable mention by the coaches and the media for the All Big Ten team. So he didn't go completely unnoticed last year.

However, this year, with all the focus (and probably a lot of double teams) on the man lining up directly to his right, his Mitch King like motor, and a year as a starter under his belt, Klug is positioned to have an exceptional season.

3 more guesses -
  • Micah Hyde - Hyde will battle Jordan Bernstine for the corner spot opposite of Shaun Prater. Even if he doesn't win it I still see him contributing a lot to the team either as a nickle/dime back or on special teams.
  • Jeff Tarpinian - Tarpinian really stood out on special teams last year, but will probably earn one of the linebacker spots in 2010. If Hunter moves inside, then Tarp will be the WLB. If Hunter stays put, then look for Tarp taking over Angerer's spot as the MLB.
  • Tyler Nielsen - Another linebacker, Nielsen is likely to replace Edds as the OLB. He has been sitting second on the depth chart the past couple years and is now ready to be the starter.