Iowa football notebook | head coach Kirk Ferentz gives injury updates, still active in transfer portal

The head coach said fullback Eli Miller would likely miss the 2023 season and linebacker Justice Sullivan was put on a medical scholarship.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz talks with the team after a spring football practice at the Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

Chris Werne, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said following spring practice on Saturday that the Hawkeyes may have multiple players out for the season in 2023.

Mainstays in the Iowa starting lineup, like defensive linemen Logan Lee and Noah Shannon, have missed all of spring practice recovering from offseason surgeries, but they’re on track to be ready to play come the fall. But Ferentz said sophomore fullback Eli Miller would likely miss the upcoming season after suffering an undisclosed injury during spring practice that required surgery.

Miller played in four games last year after moving from linebacker to fullback in 2022 fall camp.

Instead, senior Hayden Large, who is listed as a tight end on the Hawkeyes’ roster and transferred from Dordt University in the offseason, took snaps at fullback during the open practice.

“We were happy to have him join us,” Ferentz said of Large. “Really wasn’t quite sure where it was going to go … All of a sudden we’ve got a void [at fullback],  Hayden was doing okay at tight end, you know, let’s give that a shot. Seems like he has a feel for it. Right now I think he can really factor into this whole thing.”

Ferentz also said sophomore linebacker Justice Sullivan had been put on a medical scholarship because of long COVID-19.

Ferentz still active in transfer portal, targeting wide receiver and cornerback

It’s no secret that Iowa is thin at wide receiver. The Hawkeyes return just two wideouts who made more than nine catches a season ago, and so far this spring the wide receiver room has been riddled with injuries. 

Former Iowa scholarship wide receiver Brody Brecht decided to pursue baseball full-time on March 24, after playing both football and baseball for his first two seasons in Iowa City.

Iowa added receiver Seth Anderson and Austin Kutscher from the transfer portal this offseason, and Kirk Ferentz said receiver and cornerback are position groups he’s trying to add to via the portal. 

“[Wide receiver is] definitely an area that we’ll look at if we can help ourselves on the perimeter. We’re not deep at corner, either. Probably the two areas we’re kind of looking at.”

Ferentz said he talked to a player in the transfer portal the night before the open spring practice but did not give any specifics about the player. The spring transfer portal is open from April 15-30 for football players.

McNamara clear starting quarterback, Hill ahead of Labas for backup role

Ferentz confirmed what many fans thought ahead of the Hawkeyes’ final spring practice: Michigan transfer Cade McNamara will be Iowa’s starter, barring any unforeseen circumstances. 

The hotter competition this offseason will be for the No. 2 spot between sophomores Joe Labas and Deacon Hill.

Labas started in Iowa’s Music City Bowl victory over Kentucky on Dec. 31, 2022 after starter Spencer Petras was injured against Nebraska and backup Alex Padilla entered the transfer portal. It is the only game action of his career.

Hill transferred from Wisconsin in the offseason and did not attempt a pass for the Badgers.

Both Labas and Hill participated in spring practice, and Ferentz said Hill held a slight advantage over Labas for the backup quarterback spot. 

“It’s still wide open,” Feretnz said. “As of today, it would be [Hill]. That could go back and forth. It’s like a lot of stuff right now: nobody’s got any jobs locked up right now. Everybody’s going to keep working here, keep competing. We’ll see who improves and what things look like in August.”