IOWA CITY, Iowa – Chris White has never been one to pull punches. That didn’t changed Wednesday when he met here with the media.
Iowa’s Running Backs and Head Special Teams Coach said what was painfully obvious to everyone last year – the team’s punting game stunk.
"Clearly, probably, the number one thing that we need to address in this program right now is getting the punter, and the whole punt-deal straightened out. We’re working hard at it, trust me on that. We’ll get it," White said.
It makes sense that White would focus on an area he coaches as being the No. 1 concern. While that might be an overstatement, it’s no doubt up there on the list.
White indicated that starting kicker Marshall Koehn has joined inconsistent returnees Dillon Kidd and Connor Kornbrath in the battle for the starting punter position. Redshirt freshman walk-on Miguel Recinos also is being looked at for that spot, the coach said.
"It’s a wide open competition. It’s a daily deal where we’re competing. It’s a fluid situation right there," White said.
While that punting statements stood out, White covered a lot of ground during his spring football media turn. Here’s "What We Learned" from his session (videos below):
-Senior Jordan Canzeri is taking the leadership role in the running back room. He’s the lone senior in the group. White expects a lot from the New York product if he stays healthy.
-The Hawkeyes call true junior running back LeShun Daniels "Big Boy" but he has dropped his weight down to 225 pounds, said White, who added that the Ohio product broke the school’s running back shuttle drill record.
"He just looks unbelievable, and it shows on the field. His speed, his pad level, and as a matter of fact I think he broke the running back’s shuttle record for Coach Doyle, which is pretty amazing. So he’s going to take the place of Mark, for sure, in terms of those carries and more," White said.
-Akrum Wadley has improved in pass protection and added 10 pounds. White called him "super talented" and "extremely talented" today. The redshirt sophomore from New Jersey is still a work on progress in terms of ball security.
-Derrick Mitchell played the role of Wisconsin super-back Melvin Gordon on scout team last fall and his skills planted the seed for a position change. The former wide receiver, who played quarterback in high school, will push for playing time, White said.
"He’s made the transition, and he is a talented player. He had an outstanding day Saturday in live tackle football. We put him in some situations there to see how he’d respond, and he broke off a few long runs," White said.
-White said that C.J. Hilliard and Marcel Joly, who switched from defensive back to running back this spring, are progressing but gave us the sense that they’re down the depth chart right now.
-Iowa goes three deep at fullback with Adam Cox, Macon Plewa and John Kenny, who’s expected to remain in the offensive backfield going forward after moving from linebacker last season when Cox and Plewa were injured. It sounds like the workload will be somewhat balanced between those the trio in hopes of keeping everyone healthy at a physical position.
-I got the sense that Koehn is clearly ahead of true sophomore Mick Ellis at kicker. We didn’t ask it today, but you get a sense that, if that remains the same, Ellis could red shirt this fall and have three years of eligibility remaining.
-It sounded like the coaches still are trying to find out what type of running back rotation they will have this fall. Count on a committee of some sort, however.
"I’d love to sit here and have Melvin Gordon run it 50 times a game for us. We don’t have that right now. We’ll make the best. We have very talented running backs here," White said.
-Much like punter, it appears the punt and kick return jobs are up for grabs this offseason as well. Wadley and Jonathan Parker were mentioned as kick returners. Matt Vandeberg and Riley McCarron came up as punt returners. And Desmond King is being looked as a candidate for both spots.
-Wadley could receive carries in the red zone and at the goal line.
-White said that Mark Weisman was a fullback playing running back. That’s pretty candid even though it was pretty obvious.
-If you’d like to read the complete transcript from White’s press conference, you can right here: