The preseason depth chart is out for the Iowa Hawkeyes and after going over the offense, it is time to examine the defense. Iowa’s defense figures to be the cornerstone for any success it will have in 2022. The linebacker group and defensive backs are among the best in the Big Ten, if not the nation. Here is what the depth chart looks at for training camp.
The Hawkeyes will play seniors on both ends of the defensive line with John Waggoner and Joe Evans starting. Waggoner had 25 tackles in 12 games as a much bigger part of the rotation last year. Evans had 33 tackles in 14 games, including a team-leading 7 sacks. We may see sophomore standout Lukas Van Ness get some work outside as well. He is one of the team’s best pure pass rushers and will find his way across the line by the end of the season.
Iowa is favoring experience on the interior as well, putting senior Noah Shannon and junior Logan Lee ahead in the depth chart. Lee had 48 tackles including 3 sacks and 2 tackles for loss in 2021. Van Ness and fellow redshirt sophomore Yahya Black add depth to the tackle position.
SCOOP 'N SCORE 😱
Iowa's defense comes up big! pic.twitter.com/KThxP1vDrw
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 11, 2021
Jack Campbell holds down the Mike linebacker position again this season, flanked by Seth Benson at the Will. Jestin Jacobs will be a weakside stand-up linebacker in heavier sets, much like he was last season. Campbell had 140 tackles and 2 interceptions while Benson had 105 tackles and 2 sacks. According to Scott Dochterman of The Athletic, the backup to keep an eye on is junior Jay Higgins at middle linebacker. Higgins had an elevated role in the spring as Campbell rehabbed from a knee injury.
The secondary disguised some of the offense’s deficiencies in 2021 by turning defense into offense. Riley Moss headlines the unit at corner, coming off a Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year season. Across from Moss is Jemari Harris, who was pushed into a starting role in 6 games due to injuries last season. Kaevon Merriweather will be a full-time starter at strong safety and is expected to be a big piece of this defense. He was one of three Hawkeyes to join Kirk Ferentz at Big Ten Media Days. He started sparingly during his junior year. Quinn Schulte holds onto the free safety position but Cooper DeJean could see some snaps in the secondary as well.
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