Groeneweg ready to contribute for Iowa
IOWA CITY – A minor injury denied Kyle Groeneweg the chance to catch his first football in front of a crowd at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, but the newest addition to the Iowa depth chart at receiver believes he is ready to contribute.
A transfer from the University of Sioux Falls, the senior sat out last season after leaving the NCAA Division II program for a chance to join former West Lyon High School teammates Jake Newborg and Brandon Snyder on the Hawkeye roster.
Groeneweg worked on the scout team as he sat out last season, but was one of four receivers listed on the Hawkeye depth chart for spring practices.
He was positioned behind Brandon Smith at split end while returning receptions leader Nick Easley, who also missed Friday’s public practice with a minor injury, is listed ahead of Ihmir Smith-Marsette at the other receiver spot.
Groeneweg, also a potential contributor in returns on special teams, said beyond the injury spring workouts have been productive.
“It’s been a good deal for me,’’ he said. “I was able to pick up a lot and spend some time outside the slot as well. I’m trying to help the team anyway I can. I just want to help.’’
The chance to be reunited with his former high school teammates is an added bonus.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Hawkeye and after a couple of years at Sioux Falls, it was something I felt like I needed to do,’’ Groeneweg said. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could compete at this level. I didn’t want to have any regrets it was over. I’m learning every day. It’s been a good thing.’’
CATCHING ON: With two receivers not participating Friday, sophomore Max Cooper made the most of the opportunity. He finished with eight receptions during the Hawkeyes’ 90-minute scrimmage.
“The good news is it wasn’t just today, but it wasn’t much more than today,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
“The last couple days he’s come alive. It’s like, ‘OK, there is a guy wearing number 19 out there.’ Hopefully, that’s the start of a trend, not just a blip on the radar screen.’’
UP FRONT: Ferentz likes the development he sees taking place on Iowa’s lines on both sides of the ball.
“We don’t do a lot of live work, but I think that’s one area we can evaluate pretty well in practice and I’ve liked the way they’ve competed, both sides of the ball, interiorly and all the linemen. The ends, tackles on defense, all five guys offensively, they’ve competed,’’ Ferentz said.
“We don’t have enough depth right now, but I think we have a chance to have a good line.’’
A LEG UP: Iowa rotated punters throughout Friday’s practice and a now-healthy Ryan Gersonde is giving Colten Rastetter a run for the starting role.
Both had that their moments under the lights at Kinnick. Rastetter dropped a 35-yard punt on the 2-yard line after the first drive of the scrimmage stalled. Gersonde followed by booming on 52 yards in the other direction before the next series began.
With Iowa also breaking in a new long snapper – Jackson Subbert and back-up tight end Nate Vejvoda rotated Friday in ongoing competition there – the punting competition will likely continue into fall camp.
WEEKEND VISITORS: Iowa hosted Georgia running back Tyler Goodson on an official visit last weekend. It was made possible by recent NCAA rule changes that allow juniors to take official visits.
Ferentz’ preference is for Iowa to continue to host the majority of its official visits following the regular season, but he concedes that there will be exceptions for athletes who are considering to end the recruiting process with an early college choice.
“I think we’re going to keep an open mind, but we still want to do it in a controlled way,’’ Ferentz said.
Unofficial visitors included 2019 commit Logan Lee of Orion and running back recruit Jirehl Brock of Quincy, whose list of finalists includes Iowa, Iowa State and Illinois. Brock plans to make a decision before the start of his senior season.
A SIXTH SENSE: Ferentz still wonders why former Hawkeye defensive end Drew Ott wasn’t given an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing the bulk of the 2015 season with injuries.
“I’m still mad about Drew Ott, just for the record,’’ Ferentz said. “I’m for young people, and I’m all for the guys who have gotten six years. Drew Ott totally got the short end of the stick.’’