March 27, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- When the University of Iowa football team opened the 2013 season against Northern Illinois, Jordan Lomax started at right cornerback.
When the Hawkeyes kick off the 2014 season Aug. 30 against Northern Iowa, don't be surprised if Lomax starts at free safety.
Iowa opened spring drills Wednesday with Lomax, a junior, listed ahead of sophomore Anthony Gair as the heir apparent to graduated Tanner Miller on the preseason depth chart at free safety. Lomax, from Upper Marlboro, Md., opened camp at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds.
"We've liked what we have seen of (Lomax)," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He's got some of the traits that you look for in a safety, too. He's a physical player and he's very intelligent. He has some of the traits that we've seen from some of the other good safeties we have had."
That includes Miller, but Lomax has also sifted through the archives to watch film of Sean Considine playing from 2001-04. Considine came to the Hawkeyes as a walk-on and eventually spent nine seasons with five NFL teams.
"At corner you just have a picture of your side, so you don't really have the overall picture of what's going on at the other side. At free safety you have to make certain checks depending on what formation the offense comes out in. At corner you don't have to worry about making a check, you basically listen to the free safety to give you the call."
UI defensive back
In the only start of Lomax's career against the Huskies, he was in on three solo tackles with a tackle for loss, and two pass breakups. But Lomax suffered a hamstring injury, and in eight other games last season, he produced just one solo and one assisted tackle.
Late in the 2013 season and during Outback Bowl prep, Lomax switched spots in the defensive backfield. Those repetitions gave him a head start on understanding the perspective of a free safety.
"At corner you just have a picture of your side, so you don't really have the overall picture of what's going on at the other side," Lomax said. "At free safety you have to make certain checks depending on what formation the offense comes out in. At corner you don't have to worry about making a check, you basically listen to the free safety to give you the call."
Lomax's history of aggressiveness ties into Ferentz's philosophy of spring ball. He wants the Hawkeyes to go hard and not fear making mistakes. It is not a crisis if someone blows an assignment in March as compared to November.
At the same time, there are battles at every position.
"That's a good thing and players want that," Ferentz said. "They want to compete."
For Lomax, the primary competition comes from Gair, a 6-2, 200-pound sophomore from Plano, Texas.
"Anthony Gair is another great free safety," Lomax said. "The coaches see a nice, competitive environment. We're both trying to encourage each other to get better each day, we're both watching film. The transition from corner to free safety has been a great pleasure and a great experience. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get on the football field. It's nice to be back there and get a different perspective on the defense and make checks and call out the plays for the defense."
Lomax and the Hawkeyes return to the practice field Friday.
"I missed the game of football," he said. "We have been doing winter conditioning workouts for about eight weeks, so we were ready to put the pads on. Like the coaches said, we came here to play football, this is what we love to do."