White, Kennedy Talk Competition

April 8, 2015

C. White News Conference Transcript Get Acrobat Reader | B. Kennedy News Conference Transcript Get Acrobat Reader

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — At one point during a live tackling portion of Saturday’s practice at the Kenyon Outdoor Football Practice Facility, the University of Iowa sat Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels, Jr., its most veteran running backs.

Canzeri, a senior, rushed for 494 yards last season, including a team-high 120 yards on 12 carries in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl. Daniels, a junior, appeared in five games, gaining 49 yards and scoring a touchdown.

“The best thing we have going for us know is the competition,” said UI running backs coach Chris White. “The young kids came in there and opened their eyes and they see that competition.”

Young kids like sophomore Akrum Wadley (186 yards, one touchdown), sophomore Derrick Mitchell, Jr., and redshirt freshman C.J. Hilliard.

Mitchell made such an impression as a scout team running back last fall that he was switched to the backfield from wide receiver. He joins another convert to the offensive backfield — redshirt freshman Marcel Joly, who moved from defensive back.

While most college football players attempt to gain weight in the offseason, Daniels has dropped to a listed 225, and White likes what he sees.

“We call LeShun `Big Boy,’ but we should call him `Little Big Boy’ now,” White said. “He looks unbelievable and it shows on the field with his speed and pad level.”

Wadley is trying to gain the weight Daniels has lost. Wadley — Iowa’s first running back to surpass 100 yards in a game last season — is up 10 pounds to 185, and although he will never replace Mark Weisman as a battering ram inside presence, has proven he can fare just fine between the tackles.

“He has shown he can mix it up in there,” White said. “If he ever gets to 190 or 195 pounds…”

White also works with special teams. Last season the Hawkeyes were 12-of-17 on field goal attempts and averaged 37.8 yards on 65 punts. Senior Marshall Koehn kicked off 65 times with 43 touchbacks.

“The best thing we have going for us know is the competition. The young kids came in there and opened their eyes and they see that competition.”
Chris White
UI running backs coach

“We need to be better in the kicking game; we need to punt the ball better,” White said. “We need to kick field goals better. I thought Marshall did a nice job toward the end of the year being more consistent. But clearly the No. 1 thing that we need to address is getting the punt deal straightened out. We’re working hard at it, trust me on that.”

Koehn has thrown his leg in the punting ring along with seniors Dillon Kidd (38.5 average on 46 punts) and Connor Kornbrath (37.4 on 18).

White and wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy gathered with media Wednesday in the All-American Room at the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center.

After six spring practices, Kennedy says he is pleased, but not satisfied with his position group. His game plan for March and April focuses on three Ts: technique, toughness, and tempo.

Senior Tevaun Smith returns with the flashiest numbers of any wide receiver: 43 catches, 596 yards, and three touchdowns.

“Tevaun can be really good,” Kennedy said. “Where he has to embrace the challenge is putting it on tape play after play and showing that he can be an elite guy.”

Junior Matt VandeBerg averaged 18.3 yards on 14 receptions last season and Kennedy said he “has the ability to make the `Wow’ catch.”

Other members of Iowa’s “green and growing” receiver corps are seniors Jacob Hillyer and Andrew Stone, junior Riley McCarron, sophomores Andre Harris, Connor Keane, and Jonathan Parker, and redshirt freshman Jay Scheel.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the direction of our group,” Kennedy said. “I’m pleased with the direction of our team and their attitude. We have a lot of work to do.”

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