IOWA CITY, Iowa – In most cases, a true freshman offensive lineman on the Iowa football team will spend his first season being redshirted as part of the adjustment to college.
James Daniels isn’t like most cases, the latest evidence being the release of Friday’s depth chart in which he is listed as the backup left guard behind sophomore Sean Welsh.
Bryan Bulaga is believed to be the last offensive lineman to play as a true freshman for Iowa in 2007. Dace Richardson also played on the offensive line as a true freshman in 2005, as did Mike Jones in 2003. Bulaga, Richardson and Jones are all from Illinois.
Receiver Jerminic Smith is the only other true freshman listed on the new depth chart.
Iowa will face Illinois State in the season opener next Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. A lot can change between now and then in terms of personnel, but it seems apparent that the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Daniels, who is from Warren, Ohio, will play this season.
That means he will block for his older brother LeShun Daniels, who is listed as Iowa’s starting running back.
The only other significant change on the depth chart is fifth-year senior Cole Fisher moving ahead of sophomore Bo Bower at weakside linebacker. Bower, a former walk-on from West Branch, started all 13 games at outside linebacker last season and was listed as a starter throughout spring practice. Fisher has seen action in 31 games as a Hawkeye, but with no starts. He played in all 13 games last season.
Senior Dillon Kidd is listed as the starting punter, ahead of senior and Solon native Marshall Koehn, who is trying to win that job, along with already being the starting kicker.
No returns specialists were listed Friday, but junior cornerback Desmond King said at media day that he expects to return punts and kicks. Receivers Riley McCarron and Matt VandeBerg also could be in the mix as punt returners, while senior receiver Tevaun Smith is a candidate to return kicks.
King and Smith already carry a heavy load as starters. However, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he’s determined to make his special teams better, even if it means using starters. Special teams used to be a strength for Iowa under Ferentz, but not recently.