No college football team is immune from attrition.
Even the superpowers like Alabama have players who leave the team before using up their eligibility. It’s hard to please 85 players on scholarship when a team only has 22 starting positions, not including the punter and kicker.
Nobody has to remind Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz about that because his players keep reminding him.
Ferentz has dealt with his share of attrition, including losing two players this week. Sophomore linebacker John Kenny confirmed to all-hawkeyes.com on Thursday that he had left the team. Kenny’s departure came three days after sophomore cornerback Malik Rucker quit the team.
“Nothing happened (at Iowa),” said Kenny, a 6-foot-2, 234-pound native of Carmel, Ind. “I just feel like it’s best for me to explore options.”
It’s probably no coincidence that Kenny felt that way while being buried on the depth chart at linebacker. He switched from linebacker to fullback last season after injuries had depleted the fullback position. Kenny was a key contributor as a blocker, but he switched back to linebacker during spring practice in search of more playing time.
Iowa’s top two fullbacks – junior Adam Cox and senior Macon Plewa – are now healthy, so it would’ve been hard for Kenny to play at fullback. Kenny gave linebacker another shot during spring practice, but he wasn’t listed on the two-deep depth chart.
Rucker also failed to make spring depth chart as a cornerback.
“It wasn’t the right fit for me or my family,” Rucker told allhawkeyes.com on Monday. “It was a really hard decision. But all my brothers here support my decision. I thought about it for a long time.”
Iowa signed 69 players in its three recruiting classes from 2011-13. Of those 69 players, 25 quit the team before using up their eligibility. Iowa’s 2011 recruiting class was hit especially hard by attrition, with 11 of the 25 players either having left the team with eligibility remaining or having never enrolled in school.
To put that in perspective, Michigan State has only lost seven players from its three classes from 2011-13. And one of the players, defensive back Trae Waynes, will skip his senior season to play in the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings selected Waynes in the first round of the NFL draft last month.
Attrition has been a constant throughout Ferentz’s 16-year coaching reign at Iowa. But it’s magnified during tough times like now. Iowa has a 19-19 record over the past three seasons.
Kenny and Rucker were among 21 players who signed letters of intent with Iowa in February 2013. Now barely two years later, seven players in the class already have left the team. In addition to that, an eighth member of the 2013 recruiting class, offensive guard Sean Welsh, didn’t participate in spring practice for undisclosed personal reasons. Welsh started nine games last season, including the first seven.
A Closer Look at Iowa’s Attrition:
Markel Smith, RB, St. Louis
Total number of players (21)
Colin Goebel, OL, Lisle, Ill.
Anjeus Jones, WR, Dallas, Texas
John Kenny, LB/FB, Carmel, Ind.
Malik Rucker, DB, Minneapolis
Nick Shimonek, QB, Corsicana, Texas
Reggie Spearman, LB, Chicago
Derrick Willies, Rock Island, Ill.
Number of players (24)
Kevin Buford, DB, Detroit
Greg Garmon, RB, Erie, Pa.
Barkley Hill, RB, Cedar Falls
Ruben Lile, DB, Detroit
Cody Sokol, QB, Scottsdale, Ariz.
LaRon Taylor, LB, Detroit
Daumantas Venckus-Cucchiara, DE, Weston, Fla.
Cameron Wilson, WR, Dublin, Ohio
Number of players (25)
Torrey Campbell, DB, Naples, Fla.
Rodney Coe, RB, Edwardsville, Ill.
Marcus Collins, LB, Yeadon, Pa.
Marcus Grant, WR, Groton, Mass.
Dan Heiar, OL,
Nico Law, DB, Clinton, Md.
Mika’il McCall, RB, Dolton, Ill.
#Riley McMinn, DE, Rochester, Ill.
John Raymon, DE, Newtown, Pa.
Jake Rudock, QB, Weston, Fla.,
# quit playing for medical reasons