Previewing Iowa’s 2023 football team

The Hawkeyes have added multiple skill players, including quarterback and tight end, via the transfer portal for the upcoming season.


Jerod Ringwald

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara throws a pass during the Big Ten Championship game between No. 13 Iowa and No. 2 Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. McNamara threw for 16 completions on 24 attempts. The Wolverines became Big Ten Champions after defeating the Hawkeyes, 42-3.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa football will look much different in 2023.

The Hawkeyes lost key players at quarterback, linebacker, tight end, wide receiver, and running back. But Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz has been active in the transfer portal to fill those gaps.

Starting quarterback Spencer Petras injured his shoulder in the Hawkeyes’ regular season finale against Nebraska on Nov. 25. His recovery will take over six months, and he is unsure of his plans for the 2023 season. Backup Alex Padilla and fourth-stringer Carson May entered the transfer portal.

But Ferentz got former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara, who led the Wolverines to a 14-1 record and a College Football Playoff berth in 2021, to beef up the quarterback room. McNamara recently had knee surgery, however, and will not be at full strength for spring practice.

The Hawkeyes also recruited former Wisconsin quarterback Deacon Hill, who originally committed to Fordham in December.

“I’m not a quarterback expert, but just watching what he did a year ago just struck me as a winner,” Ferentz said of McNamara. “And that’s what you’re looking for at that position: a leader and a winner — someone that’s going to move the football team. He did a great job of that at his previous school, and yeah, whatever the details would have been this year and how things fell, to me it doesn’t matter, but it was a real opportunity for us.”

Ferentz also dipped into the transfer portal for a new tight end. Former Michigan tight end Erick All, who only played in three games for the Wolverines this season because of a back surgery, will play for the Hawkeyes in 2023. While he may not be ready for spring practice, Ferentz said, All will be prepared for the beginning of the 2023 season.

All will join tight end Luke Lachey, who served as former Hawkeye Sam LaPorta’s backup in 2022, and Addison Ostrenga in the TE room.

Help is also coming for the Hawkeyes’ struggling offensive line, which allowed 38 sacks this season. Saginaw Valley State transfer Daijon Parker, a 6-foot-6 300-pound offensive tackle, flipped his commitment from Virginia to Iowa to plug the Hawkeyes’ front line.

Iowa added wide receiver Seth Anderson, a transfer from Charleston Southern, following the departures of wideouts Arland Bruce and Keagan Johnson. Anderson tallied 628 yards for seven touchdowns last season.

The Hawkeyes lost running back Gavin Williams to the transfer portal following the 2022 season. Williams started the year as Iowa’s top running back but had an ankle injury and mononucleosis during the season. Williams only had 138 yards on 43 attempts and fell to third string running back behind freshman Kaleb Johnson and sophomore Leshon Williams. Gavin Williams committed to Northern Illinois out of the transfer portal.

Johnson, who led the Hawkeyes with 779 rushing yards, and Leshon Williams will return for the Hawkeyes in 2023.

Joe Evans, Noah Shannon, and Logan Lee are returning to the Hawkeye defensive line, but sophomore Lukas Van Ness declared for the NFL Draft. Van Ness was tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks despite never making a start. Defensive lineman Deontae Craig, who also recorded 6.5 sacks this season, will fill a hole in the Hawkeyes’ defensive line.

The Hawkeyes will have a thin linebacker room next season, as all three of their 2021 starters — Jack Campbell, Seth Benson, and Jestin Jacobs — left the program. Campbell was the 2022 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus Award winner — an award given to the nation’s best linebacker.

Sophomore Jay Higgins, who started when Jacobs was out with injury, registered 39 tackles this season in 12 games. Logan Klemp, Kyler Fisher, and Karson Sharar will also have an opportunity to fill holes in the Hawkeyes’ linebacker room.

Sebastian Castro and Xavier Nwankpa will likely compete for a starting position at cash for the Hawkeyes in 2023. Both have started for Iowa this season.

Finally, the Hawkeyes lost cornerback Riley Moss after five years with the program. Cooper DeJean, who led the Hawkeyes with five interceptions this season, will return in 2023. Jermari Harris will also return from an injury that kept him out the entire 2022 season.