IOWA CITY — Iowa football players begin working toward the 2018 season today, the first day of offseason work for the Hawkeyes.
The team met Tuesday for the first time since winning the Pinstripe Bowl, the first day of spring semester classes at Iowa and the starting point for a group that already includes four members of the Hawkeyes’ 2018 recruiting class.
Iowa traditionally does not add many mid-year enrollees to its roster but two mid-year high school graduates, a prep school signee and a sophomore junior college transfer are expected to be part of the Hawkeyes’ roster this spring.
Linebacker Dillon Doyle and quarterback Spencer Petras, both mid-year high school graduates, are among those players expected to go through their first offseason drills today.
The group also includes receiver Nico Ragaini, joining the program after spending the fall with the prep school program at Old Avon Farms in Connecticut, and defensive lineman Daviyon Nixon, who spent the fall semester at Iowa Western Community College.
Collectively, the four form the largest group of mid-year enrollees Iowa has had in the 20 seasons Kirk Ferentz has led the program.
They arrive with different expectations.
Having completed needed coursework at the high school level, Doyle and Petras are simply looking to get acclimated to the college game and expectations during the spring semester.
Doyle, an Iowa City West graduate and the son of Iowa strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Doyle, grew up around the Hawkeye program but is expected to work toward making strength and weight gains on his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame.
Petras, a 6-5, 225-pound native of Greenbrae, Calif., sees it as an opportunity to immerse himself in the program and its playbook after flipping his verbal commitment from Oregon State to Iowa in December.
“I see more and more quarterbacks doing it, enrolling early to give themselves a jump on getting to know the playbook and the coaches,’’ Petras said. “It’s something I started talking about with my high school coaches more than a year ago. It makes a lot of sense to me.’’
With Nate Stanley returning for his junior season at quarterback, Petras doesn’t arrive with expectations beyond acclimating himself to the college game this season.
“Mostly, it’s going to be a chance for me to get settled in, figure out how things are done and then participate in spring ball,’’ Petras said. “I’m going in with the mindset that I have a lot to learn.’’
Ragaini, a record-setting high school receiver from West Haven, Conn., spent last fall at the prep school level looking for an opportunity that came when Iowa offered him a scholarship.
“I’m coming out there with the idea that I’m going to be ready to work and put myself in a position to help the team in the fall,’’ Ragaini said. “I want to accomplish that if possible.’’
Nixon arrives with the same objectives after spending the fall semester at Iowa Western. The 6-4, 285-pound Kenosha, Wis., native signed with Iowa a year ago, but did not qualify academically.
He received a waiver from the NCAA that allowed him to join the Hawkeye program now after completing academic work in the fall at the junior college level.