April 10, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Saturday wasn't Christmas Day, it just felt like it for University of Iowa cornerback B.J. Lowery.
Saturday marked the eighth football practice of the spring training phase and UI head coach Kirk Ferentz designed a workout that was heavy on contact. That made Lowery smile and smile wide.
"I love tackling," Lowery said after practice. "Hard contact, everybody yelling. It feels good."
The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Lowery enters his third season with the Hawkeyes out of Hughes High School in Cincinnati. When upcoming opponents watch film of Iowa's 24-16 victory against Michigan last season in Kinnick Stadium, they will notice Lowery's game-saving breakup on a fourth-and-goal pass attempt to Wolverine receiver Roy Roundtree on the final play.
A more confident Lowery will take the field Sept. 1 when the Hawkeyes open the season against Northern Illinois in Chicago's Soldier Field. Lowery understands that his starting spot is not guaranteed, and there is plenty of work to be done this spring, over the summer, and during preseason camp.
"If I'm still starting (at left cornerback), I hope to continue to make big plays like the Michigan game," Lowery said. "Hopefully it will just click."
"He's tremendous. He has great feet, great hips, and with that hand healing, he's able to use it a lot more in our press technique. I'm really excited about B.J. He's going to be a tremendous football player for us. He's that guy who can press a receiver and run with him, and break all of the different routes."
UI defensive backs coach
A year ago Lowery compiled 11 tackles (10 solo) with three pass breakups. He is a member of a young, but game-seasoned, secondary that features senior leader Micah Hyde at right corner, junior free safety Tanner Miller, seniors Greg Castillo, Tom Donatell, Collin Sleeper and Jack Swanson, and sophomores Jordan Lomax, John Lowdermilk and Nico Law.
"The talent level is high," Lowery said. "We're still back there learning; everybody is learning every day. New things are being thrown at us every day, so everybody is helping each other."
While there are several familiar faces returning to the Hawkeye secondary, a new face will be coaching it. For the past 10 seasons, Darrell Wilson has coached linebackers; this will be his first season working with defensive backs. Wilson, who was named one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation in 2011, played defensive back for Connecticut from 1976-80.
"It's going well so far," Lowery said. "He put a lot of new techniques in and everything is going fine. He jokes around with us, but when it's time to get serious, we all get serious and buckle down -- it's time to learn."
Wilson is quick to reciprocate with compliments for Lowery.
"He's tremendous. He has great feet, great hips, and with that hand healing, he's able to use it a lot more in our press technique," Wilson said. "I'm really excited about B.J. He's going to be a tremendous football player for us. He's that guy who can press a receiver and run with him, and break all of the different routes."
There aren't many times during practice when Lowery sits idle. He has taken a turn fielding punts and he rushes on field goal block. But for Lowery, his favorite special team is kickoff...not kickoff return, but kickoff. That's when he gets to fly 50 yards down field and hunt down a ball carrier.
With the hard-hitting Lowery, it doesn't take a vivid imagination to picture the ensuing collision.
"That's how I first started, on the kickoff team," Lowery said. "Might as well finish with it."
It's a big week around the Hayden Fry Football Complex. Defensive coordinator Phil Parker and offensive coordinator Greg Davis will gather with reporters Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (CT). The Hawkeyes practice four times this week, with the annual Iowa Football Spring Practice presented by Coke Zero being held Saturday, April 14, at noon.