Aug. 14, 2008
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Last season University of Iowa outside linebacker A.J. Edds was second on the Hawkeye team with 80 tackles. His total was sandwiched between the efforts of fellow linebackers Mike Humpal (123 tackles) and Mike Klinkenborg (79).
Humpal recently signed a three-year contract with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Klinkenborg also graduated, leaving a deep, yet inexperienced, batch of linebackers looking to Edds for guidance.
“A.J. is our most seasoned linebacker right now,” said UI linebackers coach Darrell Wilson following the first of two practices Thursday. “Then we have Jeff Tarpinian, Jeremiha Hnter and Pat Angerer — those guys have done a nice job, as well as Jacody (Coleman). A.J. is the guy who has really taken the bull by the horns and done a nice job.”
Coleman started the game against Illinois last season when Klinkenborg was out with an injury. In nine games last season, Coleman compiled 24 tackles, including four for a loss. Tarpinian had 13 tackles, followed by Hunter with 10, Dezman Moses with eight and Angerer with one.
“The experience isn’t there, but they’ll get it,” Wilson said. “They’re practicing well, they’re really focusing on their assignments and they’re doing a nice job all-around. This is going to be a pretty good group — whoever’s out there — and we’re going to put the best three out there.”
That’s what is making Wilson’s job so difficult. After the 13th practice of the preseason, he said that it’s “still really tough” to settle on the starters.
“We have so many good football players there,” Wilson said. “It may take until the first game week to decide who will be our starting corps.”
The competition for playing time has been healthy and the linebackers remain a close-knit group, according to Wilson.
“They’re also a very bright and athletic group,” he said. “I think we’re going to be OK as the season goes on and as camp goes on. They’ll be really good football players.”
Iowa will hold its annual Kid’s Day on Saturday, Aug. 16, from noon until 2 p.m. inside Kinnick Stadium. There is no admission charge. Wilson will keep a close eye on the performance of the linebackers.
“I’ll look for consistency and improvement,” Wilson said. “We want to be flying around to the football as a group and make sure we’re mistake-free with no mental mistakes. We’ll get lined up and play good hard-nosed, tough football.”
To view 33 photos from Thursday’s morning practice, available exclusively on hawkeyesports.com, click HERE .