IOWA CITY — Eight practices into fall camp, there is some competition taking place within Iowa’s linebacker corps.
Amani Jones at middle linebacker and Nick Niemann on the outside appear to be settling into starting roles, but the will position appears to remain contested.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said following Saturday’s Kids Day public scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium that Kristan Welch, Djimon Colbert and true freshman Seth Benson are battling for the opportunity to start in the Hawkeyes’ Sept. 1 season opener against Northern Illinois.
All three spent time working with the first and second teams on Saturday and Ferentz said Barrington Wade, who did not participate Saturday but is expected back on the practice field early this week, factors into the equation, as well.
“There’s some good competition taking place,’’ Ferentz said.
Benson, a Sioux Falls, S.D., native who initially planned to sign with South Dakota State before Iowa offered, was one of a handful of true freshmen who performed well in Saturday’s scrimmage that provided a one-day first impression of first-year Hawkeyes.
Defensive back Julius Brents, defensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum and linebacker Dillon Doyle also turned in solid performances.
Brents provides some size on the back end of the defense and his range has positioned him to contend for a role on this team with continued progress.
Linderbaum, who juggled 6 a.m. conditioning work and a summer class while playing for a Solon baseball team that made a deep run in the Class 3A postseason tournament, drew praise from Ferentz.
“He’s had a very busy summer, but he came to camp ready to work,’’ Ferentz said. “In every sport he competed in, he added a little something extra to the team. That’s part of what we like about him.’’
BACK-UP BATTLE: Nate Stanley ran the starting offense on a pair of lengthy drives early in Saturday’s scrimmage, but the competition for who will be the Hawkeyes’ back-up quarterback continues.
Redshirt freshman Peyton Mansell and true freshman Spencer Petras, received a fairly even number of reps Saturday while working with the second and third teams.
Ferentz said there has been little separation between the two so far.
“Both guys have made strides since April,’’ Ferentz said.
The defense is typically ahead of the offense at this point in camp and that was the case Saturday, but Ferentz did like a couple of drives he saw from the Stanley-led first offense.
“There were a couple of 10-, 12-play drives where we looked like we knew what we were doing. That was encouraging,’’ Ferentz said. “… We do need to pick up the pace a bit on offense. It’s still early, but we’re also a week and a half away from starting to get ready to play a game.’’