April 6, 2016
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Seth Wallace presented a midterm spring synopsis of the University of Iowa linebacker corps Wednesday and the Hawkeyes who are healthy are receiving a lot of one-on-one attention…and a lot of practice repetitions.
In a strange way, the situation makes for a double dose of good news for the Hawkeyes. Wallace said Niemann and Sobotka are ahead of schedule with rehabilitation and the linebackers on the field are getting plenty of exposure.
“I can assure you that what they’re getting right now is a lot of experience, they’re getting a ton of reps,” Wallace said at a news conference in the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center. “We give reps to the ones, twos, and threes. I go into every staff meeting every day saying, `coach, I don’t have any threes. My threes are my twos.'”
Wallace enters his sixth season on the Hawkeye staff and his first as linebackers coach. He replaces Jim Reid, who was named defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Boston College in January.
Jewell was named second-team All-Big Ten and a permanent defensive captain last season after leading the Hawkeyes with 126 tackles. He also had six pass breakups, four interceptions, and three sacks.
“Josey is the leader of this team, I think everybody in the room would recognize that,” Wallace said. “He doesn’t have to open his mouth, it’s the way he goes about things, conducts himself, and what he expects of those around him.”
“I can assure you that what they’re getting right now is a lot of experience, they’re getting a ton of reps. We give reps to the ones, twos, and threes. I go into every staff meeting every day saying, `coach, I don’t have any threes. My threes are my twos.'”
UI linebackers coach
Bower made 15 tackles and returned an interception 88 yards for a touchdown last season. As a freshman in 2014, he compiled 38 tackles with 5 ½ tackles for loss.
“Bo has made significant gains during the spring in these first seven practices,” Wallace said. “There’s a time in which you would like to be able to move these guys around, get them some work at a different position. I think Bo probably needs to get some work at the Will linebacker position.”
The other Hawkeye working with the first unit is sophomore Aaron Mends.
“He’s gaining experience,” Wallace said. “He hasn’t seen a lot with (graduated linebacker) Cole Fisher solidifying that position last year. But Aaron’s jumped in there, took what growth he had last year and he’s continued to build on it.”
“Those guys are out there for a good deal of snaps. Because of that they will gain experience this spring and they’ll certainly move forward,” Wallace said.
One of the feel-good stories for the Hawkeyes last season was Fisher. He entered his final season with nine tackles, then started all 14 games and made 116 stops. Wallace wants to see another story like Fisher’s develop in 2016.
“We’re going to need somebody to be one of those stories,” Wallace said. “We talk to our guys about emerging and breaking through and creating that new story. I would hate to speculate or predict who that could be. I can guarantee you that will happen, we’ll have some stories like that develop.”
The public can get a glimpse of the Hawkeyes April 8 during an open practice at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines, Iowa. Drills begin at 6 p.m. (CT) with a youth clinic following practice at approximately 7:45.