Hawkeye special teamers set for Senior Day in Kinnick

Iowa’s Senior Day will take place against Illinois on Saturday, meaning all seniors will get recognized for the work they’ve put in over their careers.


Roman Slabach

Iowa LB Amani Jones almost blocks a punt during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights 30-0.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Thousands of hours spent in the weight room, training room, position meetings, and practices will be recognized on Saturday.

When Illinois visits Iowa City, Iowa’s seniors will run on to the field at Kinnick Stadium for a final time with their names blaring over the PA speaker and their pictures adorning the Jumbotrons on both ends of the stadium.

That goes for all seniors, whether it’s a player within striking distance of historic Hawkeye records such as Nate Stanley or those who make their presence felt on special teams such as Devonte Young and Amani Jones.

Each impact is different but serves an integral role.

“The role I play here is the hype guy who gives the energy and comes up strong,” Jones said. “I always go as hard [as I can] with no questions asked. … I’m just looking in their faces and see if they’re ready or not. When it’s really fun, and they have smiles on their faces and looking at everybody hyped — I live for those moments.”

Those different roles are as important as ever. Young may have been the hero in Iowa’s 18-17 win over Iowa State on Sept. 9 after recovering the game-securing fumble, but it’s the work he puts in every day on scout team that helps the Hawkeyes, as well.

“I feel as though I found my role,” Young said. “Anything coach wants me to do, I’ll do it, because it’s not just about one player — it’s about a team. Everybody has certain roles, and I’m not the only scout team player. I know other scout team players, they have their roles, so that’s why I’m encouraging everyone to keep coming together as a team.”

Wieting closing home career against home-state team

Iowa tight end Nate Wieting hasn’t seen a lot of action in his career.

He’s played in three games this season, hauling in seven passes for 75 yards while catching three passes for 68 yards in his previous three seasons.

Now seeing more playing time than he had in his freshman, sophomore, and junior campaigns, Wieting — a Rockford, Illinois, native — will finish his Kinnick career against a team from the same state he grew up in.

“It is kind of ironic,” Wieting said. “But again, I’m extremely grateful and really happy to be here where I’m at. Really happy to play for a program like Iowa that’s had historic success, and a coach like Coach [Kirk] Ferentz — there’s no one better in the business.”

Injury report

 After catching a career-high nine passes for a career-high 106 yards against Purdue on Oct. 19, Brandon Smith went down with an ankle injury as the game approached its end.

Now, Smith is working his way back, and he’s expected to see action in some capacity on Saturday.

Senior cornerback Michael Ojemudia, who also missed a start against Minnesota on Nov. 16, is on the same track as Smith, according to Ferentz.

“I don’t want to say they’re full speed, but at least I think they’re moving in the right direction,” Ferentz said. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to play at least partially on Saturday. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes, but it’s encouraging from that standpoint.”