5 thoughts ahead of Iowa football’s appearance at the 2022 Citrus Bowl

IOWA CITY – Fifth-year senior running back Ivory Kelly-Martin hasn’t received a hold in any of Iowa’s last five games. But he’s on track to secure the Jan. 1 opener against Kentucky at the Hawkeyes’ Vrbo Citrus Bowl.

Thanks to a combination of Tyler Goodson’s early departure to the NFL and better health, Kelly-Martin moved from the Iowa depth chart to the front row.

For a Hawkeye who has faced so much adversity over the course of his career – including various injuries, the loss of his starting job, and trial and error issues – it would be quite a story to see Kelly-Martin shine in the Sunshine State.

“When T-Good decided he was leaving, it really opened the windows for me,” Kelly-Martin said Thursday at the Iowa Football Performance Center, just three days before the team flew to Orlando for home. prepare on the spot for a battle between the 10-3 Hawkeyes and 9-3 Wildcats. “All season long, I have been able to have the ability to shine as best I know I can. It’s just (that) the opportunities have been small.

Kelly-Martin’s most recent report – the only one he received on Oct. 30 in Wisconsin – was forgettable. He missed the transfer trade and the Badgers recovered at the Iowa 1-yard line in what became a one-sided loss for Hawkeye. Kelly-Martin hasn’t played as a running back since, with Gavin Williams getting all of the No.2 reps behind Goodson. Kelly-Martin had to deal with turf toes for much of November and missed three games and was relegated to special teams for the other two.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz’s decision to put Kelly-Martin in first place is an example of the confidence Iowa coaches have in a guy who is a world-class teammate. At the same time, Ferentz said on Thursday that Kelly-Martin, Gavin and Leshon Williams will participate in the Citrus Bowl. (About Leshon, Ferentz said: “He really caught my eye in the spring and I think he’s ready to play some good football.”)

Kelly-Martin was a Hawkeye starter in 2018. He played five different seasons for the Hawkeyes and racked up 792 career yards. He would have the option of returning for a sixth season using a year of eligibility offered by COVID-19, but his mentality is that this will be his last game.

“I know I have the ability,” said Kelly-Martin. “I’m just excited to have the opportunity now.”

How special is this luck for Kelly-Martin, originally from the Chicago area: her parents, Jamar and Idaly, moved to Orlando about a year ago. They live 15 minutes from Camping World Stadium and will be able to see their son playing, probably for the last time in black and gold. Kelly-Martin praised his father for encouraging him to stand firm in Iowa, even in the face of adversity.

His teammates will also cheer him on.

“If he’s playing a good game, that means we’re probably handling the ball pretty well,” US consensus center Tyler Linderbaum said. “If we can have a special day for ‘Ivo’ send it on a high note, that would be great.”

No quarterback decision yet, but …

Spencer Petras, who left the Big Ten Conference championship game with an unspecified midsection injury, has returned to training.

“He looks really good there,” Ferentz said Thursday.

Ferentz has said he will decide next week whether Petras or Alex Padilla start the Citrus Bowl. Padilla led Iowa to three wins when Petras was sidelined in November, but returned to relief in the 42-3 loss to Michigan and only got 10 for 15 for 38 yards after Petras pulled out. hurt again.

The teammates confirmed that Petras and Padilla have representatives of the first team in training; Ferentz said freshman Joey Labas had some time with Unit 2 when Petras recovered.

Members of the media will get a preview of the December 28 practice from Iowa to Orlando and speak to Ferentz again at that time. Stay tuned.

Kaevon Merriweather, an award-winning winner inspired by Duke Slater.

Merriweather, a junior in safety for the Hawkeyes, received the Duke Slater Golden Gavel Award on Wednesday. The award was created by members of the media this year (and endorsed by Ferentz) as a way to honor Slater’s legacy as a renowned football player and judge. The former Hawkeye was a founding member of the College Football Hall of Fame, a recent inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the first African-American elected to Cook County Superior Court in Chicago.

According to his description, the Golden Gavel will be awarded annually “to the football player from Iowa who not only is most cooperative with the local media, but also shows himself with professional integrity in all interactions.”

I was fortunate enough to be on hand to help hand the honor to Merriweather, but Scott Dochterman of The Athletic deserves the greatest credit for leading the media movement. Dochterman gave a terrific speech and revealed the winner at the team reunion on Wednesday night. Merriweather said he was confused about the new price at first, then saw UI photographer Brian Ray point his camera at him as Dochterman spoke.

“He was taking pictures and looking at me. And that was pretty interesting, ”Merriweather said. “And like he said ‘Kaevon’, it’s kinda crazy, it’s kinda amazing. I’m really grateful for the award.

Hawkeyes defensive back Kaevon Merriweather responded by winning the Duke Slater Golden Gavel Award, awarded to the Iowa soccer player who is most cooperative with the media and demonstrates professional integrity in all interactions.

Merriweather received over 75% of the final votes from the media that regularly cover the team. He was one of the more vocal players following the racial prejudice outcry over the program in June 2020 and helped unify the team during this turbulent time. Whenever he meets the media, he delivers sincere responses with kindness and a big smile.

Look for Riley Moss and Jermari Harris to start over at the cornerback position.

Although Ferentz said cornerback Terry Roberts had his best training day in a long time on Thursday. Roberts suffered a bone contusion on Oct. 16 against Purdue and missed five games before playing on special teams against Michigan.

As for Moss, he has met the media for the first time since being named Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year.

“I just walked in, went to work and bought into what Coach (Phil) Parker was teaching and saying,” said the former two-star rookie from Ankeny Centennial who now has 10 interceptions, ” and look where I ended up. “

Moss won the honor this year despite being absent for 3½ games with a knee injury. The good news for Iowa: Moss said his knee is 100%. He said coaches and medical staff weren’t thrilled that he ditched his titanium knee brace, which had been used to support his left knee – which does not have a posterior cruciate ligament after being completely torn against Penn State.

Since the season, Moss has accepted an offer to participate in the Senior Bowl on February 5 in Mobile, Alabama. This would seem to indicate his state of mind is to head to the NFL, but the cornerback was still not ready to announce a decision to stay or go. He could return as a fifth year senior.

“I kind of know what I want to do. After the bowl game I’m going to find out for sure, ”Moss said. “It’s an important decision, but it’s a win-win for me. If I stay, I can live my dream for another year. If I leave, I’ll be playing the biggest dream of my life (the NFL). “

Last word from Tyler Linderbaum.

Iowa has some pretty remarkable men on this Hawkeye football team. Bettor Tory Taylor raised $ 11,000 for the Count for Kicks cause, which aims to reduce the frequency of stillborn births. His name and jersey number 9 adorn the Raygun printed “Punting is Winning” T-shirts.

And then there’s Linderbaum, who made headlines this week for the $ 30,000 he gave to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital through the sale of merchandise through a business and a site. Web managed by his father’s cousins. Under NCAA name, image and likeness laws, Linderbaum could have personally benefited from it but did not keep a dime.

The expected first-round pick in the NFL Draft in April said that about the money he left on the table.

“Giving 100% of the profits was my whole mindset. I’m not too worried about how much money I have right now. … I think having $ 100 is a lot. So it’s going to be fine, ”Linderbaum said Thursday. “I don’t have to pay for school. I live life well. Donating $ 30,000 to the children’s hospital is more important than that. “

Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow covered the sport for 27 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.

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