IOWA CITY, Iowa – Jake Duzey has patiently waited for his time. A spring injury ensured that he would have to wait awhile longer.
Iowa’s senior tight end hurt his knee and it required surgery. He was projected to be the starter this season after working behind the departed Ray Hamilton a year ago.
Duzey (6-4, 248) said here at the team’s annual media day on Saturday that he would return sometime in late September or early October. That put him on track to be back for the non-conference finale against North Texas (Sept. 26) or the Big Ten opener at Wisconsin (Oct. 3).
"I’d say the (beginning of) Big Ten is kind of like the (worst case scenario) and anything before that would be good," he said.
"I’d say I’m moving forward faster than we originally thought. Just getting my strength back and endurance will be the biggest thing."
Duzey said he injured himself during a seven-on-seven drill while catching a pass in the end zone. He said he tore something in his knee when he came down to the ground. He did hang onto the ball for a touchdown, he said.
"It was pretty frustrating when it first happened but things happen and you can’t be mad about that. You just have to do everything I can to get back on the field," he said.
Duzey paced Big Ten tight ends with 36 receptions a year ago. He totaled 392 yards and scored three touchdowns.
For now, he’s helping prepare other players at his position for the start of the season.
"During film and out there in practice, being there, if they have a question after the play I’ll let them know what I saw. If they need to know about a coverage or something, I’m always there to talk to the guys," he said.
DOOR STILL OPEN FOR FROSH QBs: Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis said it’s too early to decide whether freshmen quarterbacks Ryan Boyle and Drew Cook will be redshirted this season.
“We tell all freshmen that decision will be way down in camp or maybe even once the season gets started,” Davis said. “Right now, their heads are swimming with the volume of things that have been thrown at them and with the speed of the game.
“But they’re doing a good job. They’re hanging in there. We’ll see about the redshirt. We’ll see how that goes.”
Boyle and Cook both led their high school team to a state title as a junior and senior. Boyle attended West Des Moines Dowling Catholic, while Cook attended Iowa City Regina, where he played for his father, former Iowa tight end Marv Cook.
“They’re not ready to really compete,” Davis said of his two incoming freshmen quarterbacks.” What I have seen is bright guys who have good talent that are anxious to learn.”
Whoever learns the fastest might have an edge in the race to be Iowa’s third-team quarterback behind junior starter C.J. Beathard and redshirt freshman backup Tyler Wiegers.
Iowa traditionally brings three quarterbacks to road games. So it’s likely that either Boyle or Cook will travel with the team this season.
DANIELS, WALSH DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz announced at the start of his media day press conference that running back LeShun Daniels would not be available for interviews. The junior injured himself in practice on Saturday.
"LeShun Daniels got nicked up this morning in practice, so he will not participate during the media day. He will do a team picture later on, and we’ll make sure to make him available a week from Saturday for Kids’ Day. We’ll have him out there for any questions at that time and kind of go from there," Ferentz said.
While the coach didn’t address it, it was later learned that starting right guard Jordan Walsh would miss media day. According to Sports Information Director Steve Roe, the condition of the senior from Illinois was not thought to be serious.
"Same status as Coach (Ferentz) mentioned on Daniels," Roe wrote in an email to AllHawkeyes.com. "(Walsh) got nicked in practice and they wanted to keep him off his feet. (He) should be available next Saturday."
Walsh (6-4, 290) played in 12 games last season, starting 10 of them. He started all 13 games in 2013. He was listed as the No. 1 right guard on the latest two-deep.
Daniels sits atop the depth chart and appears poised to be the feature back for the Hawkeyes this season. He’s coming off a season where he missed seven games due to injury.
"He should be fine. I expect him to be practicing when you guys see him next week and talking and all that stuff. Just want to get him off his feet," Ferentz said.
OUTSEY ON THE MOVE: The coaches decided to move redshirt freshman Jameer Outsey to tight end from linebacker at the start of camp. The New Jersey product played the position for his high school.
"He was doing okay at linebacker, showed some good attributes, but as far as really being able to play the game at that position the way we’d hoped, probably not. His growth potential, you know, I think is going to limit him at linebacker," Ferentz said.
Ferentz said they felt Outsey could be a defensive end or a tight end. The player chose offense.
"We have a real need right now. We’ve got a couple seniors (Duzey and Henry Krieger Coble) that are going to graduate at that position, and again, based on three days of watching him, I think he’s got the potential to be a good football player at that position. Now we’ve got to try to push him forward here and see how he does."
Outsey (6-3, 235) said he was open to playing defensive end. He felt good about being a tight end after playing it at Somerset (NJ) Franklin High.
"It’s fast-paced right now because they’re just going through the playbook. You just have to learn as fast as you can and try to keep up. Playing wise, it’s fun. I like tight end and I like running routes and the blocking is fun. Just learning the playbook and catching up to speed with everybody else (is the toughest adjustment)," he said.
Outsey said Duzey is his roommate for camp and they go over the position at night.
"You just have to keep asking questions and keep learning," Outsey said.
DEAD HEAT AT PUNTER: The competition for the starting punter position looks to be tight, according to Ferentz. Incumbent starter Dillon Kidd is attempting to hold off place kicker Marshall Koehn.
"We’ve had three workouts and both of them are punting well. Marshall is every bit as good as Dillon Kidd right now at punting the football, but we’ll let the test of time determine that," Ferentz said.
"I look at it as a good development because last year we really didn’t have that luxury. Marshall has been in the race, he’s competed well, and we’ll let that play out. Obviously, we’re needing our punting game to get better."
Kidd won the starting position out of camp last year, supplanting two-year starter Connor Kornbrath. The former Florida State and El Camino Community College punter struggled to a 38.5 average last season (10th in Big Ten) and through inconsistency.
"The off-season started out with me trying to build from the ground up and go back to my basic technique, work with Coach (Chris) Doyle and the strength staff and get as strong as possible and build on some of that technique work that I worked on with some other coaches to be able to come into camp and hit every punt that the coaches ask me to," Kidd said.
As a senior, Kidd realizes this his last chance to make his mark as a college punter.
"Not necessarily the pressure, but just knowing that this is my last season as a college football player and being my second year at Iowa I feel a lot more comfortable. I’m happy to be out here and I love playing for this team. I’m just ready to go out and do the things that I know how to do," he said.