Sept. 15, 2014
- Hawkeye Football Game Day
- 2014 Fall Camp Central
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — John Kenny assumed the first time he touched a ball in a college football game it would be via an interception not a reception.
That wasn’t the case.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound redshirt freshman outside linebacker for the University of Iowa made a position switch two weeks ago and it was on display for 70,585 fans during the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game against Iowa State on Sept. 13.
Kenny recently moved sides of the ball, going from defense to fullback. The Hawkeyes were thin at fullback when junior Macon Plewa was dinged up last week. Another fullback, junior Adam Cox, is out for the season with a knee injury.
“It was a new experience, but overall I thought it went pretty well,” Kenny said of his first game in the offensive backfield. “I knew my assignments and I thought we moved the ball and pushed people around.”
Kenny played only defense at Carmel (Indiana) High School. The last time he was on offense was in middle school as a running back.
“John did an outstanding job, it’s not like he’s played fullback for a long time,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We asked John to jump in there and take more reps and he didn’t have much work if you consider the big picture. But I thought he did a very representative job in the first game. To me, he has a chance to develop into a very good fullback if that’s the path we take.”“John did an outstanding job, it’s not like he’s played fullback for a long time. We asked John to jump in there and take more reps and he didn’t have much work if you consider the big picture. But I thought he did a very representative job in the first game. To me, he has a chance to develop into a very good fullback if that’s the path we take.”Kirk Ferentz
UI football coach
Iowa started its game against Iowa State with two tight ends (Jake Duzey and Ray Hamilton) rather than a fullback. But Kenny saw numerous snaps and even hauled in a 2-yard pass reception from quarterback Jake Rudock in the fourth quarter.
“I never thought I would be catching passes when the season began, but it was fun going through the protection and Rudock found me,” Kenny said.
The transition from linebacker to fullback was made easier for Kenny because, as a defender, he would frequently go head-to-head against fullbacks in practice.
“It wasn’t a huge challenge,” Kenny said. “The biggest one was staying low and being physical just like at linebacker — there was no huge difference.”
Kenny takes pride in being physical. As a team player, he wants to do what is best for the Hawkeyes’ success. An added incentive was that moving to fullback was his quickest path to the playing field. Iowa is developing a solid stable of linebackers that includes seniors Quinton Alston and Chad Gilson, juniors Travis Perry and Cole Fisher, and sophomore Reggie Spearman. Kenny was a backup on all special teams.
“Whatever I can do to see the field is what I will do,” Kenny said.
He saw the first action of his career Saturday and admitted that being on stage in front of so many fans was cause for a “nerve-wracking” indoctrination.
“Once I got the first couple plays down, I got the hang of it and started to play with instinct and doing my assignments,” Kenny said. “You don’t really know what to expect. You know that your name could be called at any time and you don’t want to let the team down.”
Kenny is unsure of what the future holds for him position-wise. He continues to prepare as a linebacker and fullback.
“That’s up to the coaches. I have fun playing both,” Kenny said. “As of right now, fullback is the position for me.”
The Hawkeyes conclude the nonconference portion of their schedule Sept. 20 at Pittsburgh of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Panthers improved to 3-0 this season with a 42-25 win at Florida International on Sept. 13.