Only seven seniors started for Iowa in its Pinstripe Bowl victory over Boston College one week ago and while their replacements won’t be determined for some time, there are other questions to be answered.
Hawkeye players don’t return to campus for the start of spring semester classes until Jan. 16, but the opening month of 2018 promises to be filled with storylines for the Iowa program.
Here are a few to keep an eye on during upcoming weeks:
Will he stay or will he go?
Josh Jackson or James Daniels?
Take your pick.
Both juniors are weighing decisions about whether to use their final year of eligibility with the Hawkeyes or declare themselves eligible for early entry into the NFL draft.
They face a Jan. 15 deadline to figure it all out.
Jackson, who led the nation with eight interceptions during his first season as the Hawkeyes’ starting left cornerback, said following the bowl game that he was closing in on a decision, weighing the pros and cons of returning against those for declaring for the draft.
“I want to give it a little more time and make certain it’s the right decision for me,’’ Jackson said. “I’ve gone back and forth a few times and ultimately, it’s my call and I want it to be the best decision I can make.’’
A starter on the offensive line the past three years, Daniels has submitted his name for consideration by the NFL Draft Advisory Board to gain an understanding of where he might fit in the draft.
Iowa’s starting center said following the bowl that he hadn’t given it any additional thought, preferring to focus on game preparations.
“It will all sort itself out at the right time,’’ Daniels said.
Will there be staff changes?
That is guaranteed this year.
The NCAA approved the addition of a 10th assistant coach for programs at the Football Bowl Subdivision level last April, but delayed implementation of adding the additional position to staffs until next Tuesday.
That prevented a preseason hiring frenzy in 2017 that would have ultimately impacted programs at all levels, but will now add an additional coach who will be allowed to go on the road and recruit.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has been planning for the additional hire for nearly a year, interviewing potential candidates for the 10th assistant’s position as he worked to fill staff vacancies last February that led to the hiring of offensive line coach Tim Polasek and receivers coach Kelton Copeland.
Who stays? Who goes?
January has also become moving month in recent years for college football programs.
Don’t rule out the possibility of roster changes before the start of offseason work.
One player, freshman Noah Clayberg, announced his departure last month after contributing on special teams and working out on defense last fall.
The Iowa 2015 Gatorade Player of the Year at the high school level as a quarterback for Pella has already landed at Dordt, an NAIA program where he is expected to return to the offensive side of the ball.
Could there be graduate transfers?
That is always a possibility.
Four reserves on the Iowa roster who were juniors from an eligibility standpoint on last fall’s team earned their undergraduate degrees from Iowa during the December graduation ceremony.
The group includes kicker Mick Ellis, running back Marcel Joly, linebacker Aaron Mends and quarterback Tyler Wiegers.
Mends and Wiegers were both listed on Iowa’s depth chart for the Pinstripe Bowl, Mends playing behind Bo Bower and Wiegers as the back-up to Nate Stanley.
How does Iowa complete recruiting?
The first-ever early-signing period changes how teams recruit in January.
Iowa coaches have had time since signing 16 players in December to survey the landscape and try to develop a game plan to fill the remaining available scholarships for the 2018 recruiting class.
The traditional February signing date remains the first Wednesday of the month, Feb. 7 this year, and coach Kirk Ferentz has said Iowa expects this year’s class to number a total of 20-22 players.
That leaves a handful of scholarships to be filled once the current recruiting dead period ends on Jan. 11. Linebacker, receiver and defensive back remain priorities.