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@hawkeyenation @ScottDochterman @marcmorehouse If Spring Ball started tomorrow what 3 LB’s morning guy be listed as starters on a depth chart? Any chance someone would make a position switch to fill a spot?
— Brian Leydon (@bleydon) November 28, 2017
ANSWER: That’s a great question, and it will be a tremendous competition going into 2018. Iowa currently has four players with some experience vying for the inside linebacker slots and two young players (maybe more) competing for the outside.
At middle linebacker, it looks like either senior (2018 status) Jack Hockaday or junior Kristian Welch will try to replace Josey Jewell. Hockaday stepped in for Jewell last year when Jewell was ejected for targeting. Both have worked with the second team this year. I can see that battle going way into training camp.
At weakside linebacker, senior Aaron Mends has a slight edge on junior Amani Jones. Mends originally was slated as the starter in 2016 spring practice but Bo Bower beat him out in training camp.
At outside linebacker, I think sophomore Nick Niemann will replace his older brother, Ben, as the starter. Sophomore Barrington Wade should compete with Nick Niemann for the starting spot. It’s possible Welch could move back outside if necessary.
There are two freshmen currently redshirting who also bear watching. One is former Iowa City High quarterback Nate Wieland, who packs both strength and speed into his frame. The other is Djimon Colbert, who was too big and physical to stay at safety.
It’s also possible Iowa adds a junior college linebacker this winter to the fold. Maybe there’s a chance one of the backup tight ends switches to outside linebacker, but I won’t speculate on that quite yet.
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