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Iowa football look ahead: NFL will take a bite, but the chase begins for the 2019 Hawkeyes



TAMPA, Fla. — The confetti stays in the air only so extended.



The Outback Bowl trophy will go into the two-story circumstance at the Hansen Middle right before the 7 days is in excess of. Vital seniors will say goodbye. A number of juniors will enter the NFL draft and, whammo, it’ll be 2019.



To start with a little roll call.



Moments just after the Hawkeyes’ 27-22 earn in excess of Mississippi Condition in Tuesday’s Outback Bowl, tight conclude T.J. Hockenson identified his brother on the rail in the stands, peeled off his jersey and handed it to him.



The sentiment was “I couldn’t have carried out it without you.” In the postgame, the Chariton native’s eyes have been pink. He was a little bit emotional. These weren’t the intercontinental signs of a returning senior.



Hockenson received the Mackey Award. He’s demonstrated it. His NFL stock possibly is not likely to get any better. If you write him in for 2019, do it in pencil.



“I have an strategy of what I’m likely to do,” Hockenson stated. “I’m likely to sit on it for a number of days and not still left anyone know. I think my mom and dad may well know, but I do not even know if they do but.”



This wasn’t the speech of a returning senior.



Security Amani Hooker on the matter: “I’m not talking about it, I’m not completely ready to chat about it.” He did set in for an NFL evaluation. He received the Significant Ten’s defensive again of the yr award. His stock is possibly not likely to be any better.



Defensive coordinator Phil Parker played it close to the vest, but he also ran down the list of opportunity replacements for Hooker at the star security/linebacker place in businesslike fashion and stated, you guess, when asked if Hooker experienced what it can take to play in the NFL.



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Defensive conclude Anthony Nelson could enter a stacked defensive line draft or he could return to Iowa, just take a shot at the huge awards and possibly build himself a 1st-spherical resume.



“I’ll figure it out in the following two weeks,” stated Nelson, who experienced 2 1/2 tackles for reduction and a tipped move that resulted in an interception vs. MSU. Nelson also received a favorable draft quality from the NFL.



The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is Jan. 14.



If Iowa goes 1-for-3 listed here, it’d be a victory. And if it does, it’s possibly likely to be Nelson returning.



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So now into the huge offseason and what the Hawkeyes (9-4) absolutely have coming again.



A.J. Epenesa is not likely anyplace. Not but, anyway. He finished with 10.5 sacks, which may possibly conclude up leading the Significant Ten just after the bowl games.



This is possibly an overstatement and undoubtedly Iowa wore the team defense matter on its chest towards the Bulldogs, but Epenesa’s overall performance set a great deal of gasoline in the Hawkeyes’ tanks.



“We needed to make them throw it,” stated Epenesa, whose strip-sack turned into a TD and turned into the day’s topic for Iowa, with the defense creating 3 turnovers that the offense converted into 17 factors. “We realized that wasn’t their potent suit. Anytime we could make them throw it, we realized have been in the gain.”



Fellow defensive conclude Chancey Golston experienced an interception and fumble restoration. Defensive conclude will be a power. Defensive deal with will will need some fortifying with seniors Matt Nelson and Sam Brincks graduating.



Devoid of Hooker, security Geno Stone is possible the most completely ready to presume a management/playmaker position in the secondary. Matt Hankins skipped six weeks with injuries, but on the front conclude and again conclude of that he was Iowa’s ideal cornerback. The Hawkeyes are drenched in professional cornerback depth.



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Front and heart on offense is quarterback Nate Stanley. He threw 3 TDs and strike 26 for the season for the 2nd consecutive yr. He experienced lapses, which include a bad ball that finished up turning into an MSU TD.



He’ll enter his senior season with 52 vocation TD passes, fourth on Iowa’s all-time list.



Quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe protected this matter well in December.



“Really, the only time he received himself into trouble was when he tried out to push via something that he wasn’t observing quite proper and perhaps set a ball exactly where he seriously didn’t want it to go,” O’Keefe stated. “That’s the matter you’ve received to fight. You have to resist the urge to try to do something that you know is not quite right and just keep moving on from there.”



Iowa will return offensive tackles Tristan Wirfs and Alaric Jackson. They’re a good get started on the O-line. Freshman Tyler Linderbaum will have a say at heart. Never judge guard Cole Banwart as well harshly for the Outback Bowl. MSU defensive deal with Jeffrey Simmons will be a leading-10 choose in April. Nonetheless, there requires to be a vigorous opposition for the within OL positions.



With the signings of a pair of operating backs (Tyler Goodson and Shadrick Byrd), the Hawkeyes will go into following tumble with five on scholarship. There is likely to be sorting and jockeying.



There will be a rebuild at tight conclude, with junior Shaun Beyer possibly basically completely ready to run into that void. Iowa will lose tremendous-productive Nick Easley (103 receptions in two seasons), but Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette will be juniors and must be completely ready to carry a great deal additional weight.



The Outback trophy will be in the circumstance by the conclude of the 7 days. The chase, and all of its twists and turns, begins anew.



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