The Iowa Hawkeyes enter the 2014 season coming off an eight-win season in 2013. Although the finish was good for second place in the Legends division, last season left a lot to be desired.
Heading into '14, the Hawkeye schedule sets them up nicely for a nine-win season and, if they play their cards right, a tenth win could be a possibility. In order to get back to a shell of their former 2002 and 2004 selves, their playmakers will have to step up to be fortunate enough to reach ten wins.
Here is a list of three players who will pace the Hawkeyes this season.
Brandon Scherff - Offensive Lineman
Likely to be a high draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Scherff will follow a long line of Hawkeye offensive lineman to make it to the next level. An All-Big Ten player, Scherff's return to the offensive line is a key addition to the group and he is expected to make a major contribution this season.
Although missing the latter half of his sophomore season due to a broken fibula and a dislocated ankle, he has been an excellent replace for current Detroit Lion Riley Reiff. The senior is being regarded as one of the best tackle prospects in the nation right now.
By all accounts, it appears that Iowa will be sending another tackle into the pros in 2014.
Below is a video of Scherff discussing why he decided to come back to Iowa for his senior season.
Carl Davis - Defensive Tackle
Although 2013 was the first year that senior Carl Davis saw serious starting time, he wasn't afraid to make the opportunity count. In fact, Davis was instrumental in shutting Michigan down by forcing them to only having 60-yards of net rushing and 158-yards of total offense. He also had a career best eight tackles against the Wolverines as well.
The senior defensive tackle returns to build on a successful 2013 campaign which saw him have 42 tackles and one-and-a-half sacks.
Below is a video of Davis talking about his excellent spring game performance.
John Lowdermilk - Defensive Back
Not only does he have a fantastic last name, it is clear that John Lowdermilk is the clear leader of the defensive backs heading into the 2014 season. One of 10 true freshman to start in 2011, Lowdermilk is looking to end his Hawkeye career on a high note.
Lowdermilk finished the 2013 season with 78 tackles (fourth on the team in tackles), four-and-a-half tackles for loss and one interception.
He is a presence at safety that all teams will have to scheme around.
Also in 2013, Lowdermilk was good for a SC Not Top 10 nomination.