14. Steve Ferentz - Center
If his name wasn't Ferentz, would you have any idea he was on the team? No offense to him. He stuck it out, kept plugging along while getting an education. Also, somebody has to be last, and I figure he'll have the easiest time bouncing back from coming in last place on this list. Sorry, Steve.
12 (tie). Mitch Keppy and Ryan Ward - Offensive Linemen
I remember being excited when Iowa signed these guys. I do not remember a moment of them on the field, so it was impossible to separate them. At least they didn't come in last.
11. Anthony Gair - Safety
Before this year, I would have had no thoughts on Gair. He was just a guy that hung around the program and played on special teams. Then, halfway through the year, he was forced to play some when Miles Taylor got injured, and he actually played pretty well. Did he benefit from some overthrown deep passes? Sure, but that may have been because opposing quarterbacks were sGAIRed.
10. Ron Coluzzi - Punter
I know he only played one year, and he was just a solid punter, but that performance against Michigan was something that will stick with me for a long time. The man did a fake punt where he stumbled, flipped, and managed to get an unnecessary roughness penalty, and although that moment is more memorable, the more impressive feat was getting back-to-back running into the kicker penalties. If there is such a thing as a Punter Party, that story will make him the life of the party.
9. Faith Ekakite - Defensive Tackle
Ekakite never had a huge impact, but he got better and better and made some plays in his senior year. Also, let us not forget that he was nearly murdered for playing Pokemon Go, and I feel like that's one of those stories that will stick with me for years to come.
8. Riley McCarron - Wide Receiver
McCarron is a victim of the Peter Principle. He simply got promoted higher than his skill level really allowed. McCarron was a fine third receiver, but he was not a number one, and trying to fit him into that role after Matt VandeBerg got injured early in the season basically led to disaster for the receiving corps. Had he stayed a third receiver, I would have had nothing but positive thoughts about him. Instead, I kept hearing announcers say how reliable (aka white) he was as a pass catcher, despite dropping a ton of balls. But let's not forget that punt return touchdown against Illinois, or the huge touchdown against Nebraska. Those are some pretty nice highlights for a third receiver.
7. Cole Croston - Offensive Tackle
At a school known for producing offensive linemen, it's really tough to stand out. Croston doesn't measure up with some of the elite names, but he served a purpose. When the offensive line was supposed to be garbage, he helped them reach respectability, and they even won a vague offensive line award this year. I'm a sucker for offensive line play, so I won't be forgetting about you, Cole.
6. Greg Mabin - Cornerback
Greg Mabin was such a tease. He showed a tremendous amount of potential when he got thrusted into the cornerback role as a sophomore across from Desmond King. But that's all it was, potential. He seemed to be the same guy he was during his senior year as he was when he started. He was a solid, unspectacular cornerback. I think people will remember him as somewhat disappointing, but he had some highlight hits and interceptions while starting for three years. That's a pretty solid Hawkeye career.
5. George Kittle - Tight End
It is impossible for me to think about George Kittle without considering how awesome he would have been in a Ken O'Keefe offense. He may have won the Mackey Award if O'Keefe was in charge of the offense. Instead, it was a Greg Davis offense, so his impact was mitigated. Kittle had all of the tools except an offensive coordinator that knew how to utilize him. He'll probably be a late-round draft pick, and he'll end up becoming a starter and people will wonder why their team didn't get a solid tight end like Kittle. I'm a very big George Kittle fan.
4. LeShun Daniels Jr. - Running BackDaniels was never the fan favorite running back. His freshman year, it was Mark Weisman (I have a Weisman for Heisman shirt; I should be embarrassed by this), sophomore and junior year, it was Jordan Canzeri, and senior year, it was Akrum Wadley. Daniels just went out and produced more and more each year. I know he didn't have the flash plays, but having a bruiser to wear defenses out does matter, and Daniels mattered. He was the first back to eclipse 1,000 yards since Marcus Coker. He's not an all-time great, but he was a damn good back.
3. Jaleel Johnson - Defensive Tackle
First off, how much fun is it to sing, "I'm sorry Miss Jackson, but I am JALEEL?" It's super fun, but Jaleel Johnson was also a monster at times. His safety against Michigan is what finally gave Iowa some momentum in that game. But there hasn't been a defensive lineman that had big plays like Jaleel since Adrian Clayborn. It seemed at times that if Jaleel Johnson decided that he was going to tear apart the opposing offense, he was able to go out there and tear apart that offense no matter what they tried to do to stop him. Iowa's defense relies so much on the defensive line play that Jaleel may be the player that is most missed next season.
2. C.J. Beathard - Quarterback
I understand that Beathard didn't end his career on the highest note, but let's not forget how fun he was at quarterback. Greg Davis made sure that his stats would not be impressive, but watching Beathard was impressive. And his pass to Tevaun Smith in last year's B1G title game may have been the greatest single moment in Iowa history. Rob Houghtlin's kick was in the middle of the season, and Holloway's catch was in a rather meaningless game, but Beathard's pass to Tevaun meant Iowa was going to be undefeated and head to the National Title. Obviously, things didn't work out in that game, but that single moment was huge. And Beathard was huge for the program. He was our Sunshine, and then he went white-trash corporate with his look when he took over the starting job. He was off to a really good start when VandeBerg was healthy, but then had no options, especially with Kittle being hurt. He was not put in a position to succeed, and he put up 20 wins in his two years as a starter. CJB, you will be missed...
1. Desmond King - Cornerback
...but not as much as this guy. Like there was ever any doubt who was going to be number one. Desmond King was so stupid awesome for Iowa. He came in as a true freshman starter and was pretty damn good. He then got better and better. People will nitpick his senior year because he gave up a few big plays, but that was only because he was so bored with nobody throwing his way that he had to try to take some risks to get involved in the action. We all know that the best part about King was the fact that he was a total ballhawk, but don't forget how good of a tackler he was. Oh yeah, and he was also an awesome return guy. He was just such a football player in every way. It made no sense for him to come back this season, but getting four years of watching him play football was an amazing experience. I'm going to tell my kids about watching Desmond King play college football. That's how good he was.