IOWA CITY, Iowa – Jay Scheel was in an all-too familiar position on Saturday during the Kids Day practice at Kinnick Stadium.
Instead of being lined up at split end where he is listed as a co-starter, Scheel was on the sideline wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
He couldn’t practice because of a hamstring injury, but hopes to return early this coming week.
“It’s tough, I’ve been out a few days, but I should be back next week,” said Scheel, a third-year sophomore. “So I’m not too worried about it.”
Scheel is competing with fellow sophomore Jerminic Smith to replace Tevaun Smith as the starting split end. They both were listed as co-starters heading into preseason practice.
Scheel is entering his third year in the program, but has appeared in just two games, playing briefly against Illinois State and Northwestern last season.
He was redshirted as a true freshman in 2014 and used that time to recover from two knee injuries that he had sustained in high school. Scheel also has dealt with other nagging injuries since becoming a Hawkeye.
Scheel didn’t say how much practice time he has missed because of the hamstring injury. He wants to be careful not to rush back from the injury, because sometimes with a hamstring injury it can be hard to know for sure if it has healed.
“It’s tough because you don’t want to push it too early and then be out for a long time,” Scheel said. “You’ve got to ease into it, obviously.”
In addition to overcoming injuries, Scheel also had to learn a new position after playing mostly quarterback at Union High School in LaPorte City.
His performance this season could be crucial to Iowa’s success as it moves on without Tevaun Smith and receiver Jacob Hillyer, both of whom used up their eligibility last season.
Senior Matt VandeBerg is Iowa’s most experienced receiver and is coming off a 2015 season in which he led Iowa with 65 catches for 703 yards.
He is now helping to mentor Scheel and Jerminic Smith, along with the other younger receivers.
“I know they come out to work each and every day and that’s really all they can do,” VandeBerg said of Scheel and Smith. “Come out to work and get better.”