TDL: Two-A-Days - Iowa Yellow Jackets
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The Yellow Jackets of Iowa buzz into the 2021 season with plenty of confidence.
“Every day out here at practice we are fired up and ready to go,” said Iowa linebacker Ross Denison. “We are competitive out here every single day and we’re very confident in what we have.”
Despite an up-and-down 3-3 season, Iowa returns plenty of experience with 11 starters back. Six of those are on the defensive side of the ball.
“These guys have a lot of experience with two of them being four-year starters for us,” said Iowa coach Tommy Johns. “We are looking for those guys to lead us and get us lined up correctly and just be leaders on the defense to get us going.”
Linebacker Ross Denison is the voice of the defense and is considered the unit’s leader.
“I think it is very important that I set the tone and be a role model,” said Denison. “I have to lead this team and make sure everyone is in position and ready to go.”
The secondary may be the strength however with Crajuan Bennett, Makel Montgomery, Brycen LeBlanc and Jhaylen Moss each reprising their starting roles. In Bennett’s case, the speedy corner is getting plenty of looks from colleges like Marshall and UAB.
“He is going to be a corner and safety for us and he’ll also flip around and play receiver,” said Johns. “He has a great skill set that’s very diverse like Curtis Deville and Brycen LeBlanc. All three of those guys are gonna help on both sides.”
Speaking of Deville, the Purdue commit comes in as Iowa’s defacto weapon. In Iowa’s pistol offense, Deville will primarily play running back, but he’ll also line up all over the formation.
“He is just as dangerous carrying the football in the backfield as he is the perimeter. We are going to try and get the ball in his hands,” Johns said. “It’s his ability to go up and get the ball. He dunks in basketball and he high jumps in track, so he has a diverse skill set.”
Despite totaling over 450 yds and three touchdowns in 2020, Deville’s goal is just to help open the offense up for his quarterback.
“I try putting all the pressure on me so Koltin [LeBleu] can get the ball to other guys,” said Deville.
Koltin LeBleu takes over the quarterback job as a run-heavy quarterback with a live arm.
“I think he is almost a throwback option quarterback. Back in the 90s that’s what he reminds me and our coaches of,” said Johns. “We’ve always known he can run, but he’s throwing the ball a lot better now too.”
LeBleu should be well protected as Iowa returns four starters across the line.
“Coach Gorman is our offensive line coach and he’s done a phenomenal job with those guys to get them ready,” said Johns. “It’s a physical group, which is what we want. Everything is going to start and stop with those guys up front.”
After three straight non-winning seasons, the Jackets believe this is the year they get over the hump.
“It’s time. A lot of these kids had to start when they weren’t ready, but we didn’t have much of a choice. They had to get out there and play before they were really ready and they took their lumps and growing pains,” said Johns. Last year it is what it is, it’s kind of all in the wash now at this point. We are ready to focus in on this year and get going.”
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