There are some high expectations individually for this Iowa football team, and respected sportswriter Phil Steele appears to agree.
College football sportswriter Phil Steele published his 2019 preseason All-American team and his preseason All-Big Ten teams. Not incredibly surprising by there were three Iowa football players on the All-American team and eight on an All-Big Ten team.
Making the preseason All-American team is potential top-10 pick AJ Epenesa, road grading tackle Alaric Jackson, and last year’s Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
I don’t disagree with the folks included on this list. In fact, I legitimately predicted this six months ago (so if that isn’t some credibility I don’t know what is).
The only thing I will add is that after doing more analysis on this 2019 Iowa football team, I feel like we could see a few surprises at the end of the season similar to 2018 when TJ Hockenson and Amani Hooker rose to stardom.
These guys are Tristan Wirfs (who probably should have been included on this list already), Geno Stone (he led the team in INTs last year), Matt Hankins (this guy just needs to get the INT stats), and Chauncey Golston (with Epenesa getting double teamed, he should be the primary beneficiary).
For the All-Big Ten team, obviously, Epenesa, Jackson, and Smith-Marsette were included. In addition to those guys, Tristan Wirfs (fourth team), Nate Stanley (third team), Geno Stone (third team), Nate Wieting (fourth team), and Kristian Welch (fourth team) made the team.
If Stanley makes third team All-Big Ten by seasons end, it means he put up the numbers necessary to possibly secure a spot on day one or day two of the 2020 NFL Draft. Wirfs and Stone should absolutely be higher considering I think they are sleeper picks for All-American selections. I am not exactly sure what the thought process is on Wieting or Welch though. Nothing against Wieting, but if you’re going to pick one tight end to break out this year, my money is on Shaun Beyer. As far as the Welch pick goes, I would have picked Nick Niemann but that’s just me.
These preseasons awards have nothing to do with in-season results or end of season awards, but they do help put prospects on the NFL’s radar. For guys like Wieting and Welch, who likely aren’t being scouted nearly as heavily as the Iowa football team’s top guys, that is huge.
Now they just need to go out there and crush it.