Iowa Hawkeyes Must Reload Up Front

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes recently lost a former member of their defense in long time defensive coordinator Norm Parker. Though Parker was no longer with the team, the loss to the Hawkeye family is still deeply impactful. Parker will be missed.

Head Coach Kirk Ferentz will be losing some key contributors to his defensive squad from the class of 2013. Because of the hard work, recruiting and coaching done by Ferentz, Parker, and the rest of the coaching staff, the Hawkeyes have been able to continually fill the holes left by departing seniors. Remember, these seniors were once tasked with carrying the Hawkeyes team through a rigorous Big Ten schedule.

There will be eight seniors leaving the Hawkeyes’ defense this year, and the losses will definitely be significant as there was such a high amount of contribution by this year’s seniors. There were some outstanding individual recognitions given and some potential for extended careers at the next level. But the immeasurable offered by the class are what helped elevate the Hawkeyes throughout the season. Leadership, pride, and an extremely competitive nature will be things that the coaching staff will be looking to next year’s seniors to exhibit and encourage younger players.

Up front in the trenches in the defensive line, the Hawkeyes will be losing Dominic Alvis. Alvis is an Iowa native from Logan.  The senior has been a solid contributor for the Hawkeyes throughout his career, and he always plays with great fire. Alvis suffered through injuries, hindering him from achieving potential individual accolades as a senior. However, his contributions as a run stopper and pass rusher will be greatly missed next year.

While Alvis may be the only defensive lineman departing at the next level, the Hawkeyes will be losing even more depth and talent.  Three senior linebackers, the heart of the Hawkeyes’ defense will be leaving the team this season.  These men received great honors from the world of college football for the performance as a group, with individual awards given to players from the conference and the team.

Senior James Morris displayed natural leadership qualities and great intelligence while playing for the Hawkeyes earning him second team all-Big Ten honors as a linebacker.  Morris recorded 90 tackles in his final season in black and gold. Morris is also projected to be a seventh round draft selection or picked up as a free agent provided he decides to peruse a football career. Given his academic success and goals football may not be his career choice.

Senior Anthony Hitchens led the Hawkeyes in tackles as a senior with 102.  Hitchens also earned an all-Big Ten honorable mention for his play at linebacker. Hitchens like Morris may have a future in the NFL, but it would most likely be as a very late draft selection or through free agency.

Christian Kirksey is the tenth rated inside linebacker in this year’s draft. Kirksey displayed outstanding athleticism in his days as a Hawkeye. Kirksey finished his career with over 300 total tackles. He also won a big ten honorable mention for his play at Linebacker.

These four seniors added great toughness up front for the Hawkeyes. Their departure will give an opportunity to underclassmen to potentially step up and be the next great Hawkeyes’ defenders.

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