Iowa football inside USA TODAY Sports’ post-spring top 25 rankings

With the end of the Iowa Hawkeyes‘ spring practices a month in the rearview,  most of the roster shuffling has come and gone.

Iowa did bolster its roster a bit, adding a pair of Northwestern transfers in quarterback Brendan Sullivan and wide receiver Jacob Gill.

Sullivan brings 13 career appearances and eight starts with him to Iowa City.

The 6-foot-3, 225 pound quarterback has completed 68.7% of his passes for 1,303 passing yards with 10 touchdowns against five interceptions. Sullivan has also rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Gill tallied 16 receptions for 195 yards with a pair of touchdowns over the course of his three seasons in Evanston. The 6-foot, 190 pound receiver appeared in 28 games over the last three seasons.

Offensive lineman Cade Borud joined the program as a preferred walk-on as well.

Other than that, most of the thoughts about the Hawkeyes probably didn’t change too awfully much based on what the spring showed us and what Iowa added in the transfer portal.

Still, with the spring practices and transfer portal musical chairs more or less finished, publications nationally are updating their post-spring way-too-early top 25 college football rankings.

USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg and Erick Smith unveiled their post-spring way-too-early top 25 college football rankings, too. Iowa checks in as the No. 24 team nationally.

The departure of offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz removes a lightning rod of controversy for the Hawkeyes and their fans. The worst-ranked offense in the country can only get better with former Western Michigan coach Tim Lester taking over. Lester will hope to keep QB Cade McNamara healthy after he missed much of last season.

McNamara was limited in spring practice and adding a quarterback as insurance seems necessary. The defense will again be rock-solid, so another season with 10 wins seems possible given that the offense can only improve. – Paul Myerberg and Erick Smith, USA TODAY Sports.

Obviously, Iowa addressed USA TODAY Sports’ concern, bringing in Sullivan to compete with graduate quarterback Cade McNamara, redshirt freshman Marco Lainez and true freshman James Resar.

The Hawkeyes return a number of experienced offensive linemen in senior left tackle Mason Richman, junior left guard Beau Stephens, senior centers Logan Jones and Tyler Elsbury, senior right guard Connor Colby and graduate and junior right tackles Nick DeJong and Gennings Dunker.

Iowa features senior Leshon Williams and junior Kaleb Johnson among its running backs two-deep. Juniors Kaleb Brown and Seth Anderson are back as Iowa’s top two returning pass-catchers at wide receiver. Plus, senior tight end Luke Lachey returns from a season-ending injury as well and will provide another talented pass-catching option.

Potential offensive improvement will once again determine how high the Hawkeyes can soar, but defensive star power is what gives USA TODAY Sports the confidence to keep Iowa inside its post-spring top 25 rankings.

Iowa returns senior defensive ends Deontae Craig and Ethan Hurkett. On the interior at defensive tackle, the Hawkeyes bring back junior Aaron Graves and senior Yahya Black.

Iowa will feature one of the nation’s finest linebacking units. Graduate linebacker Nick Jackson and senior linebacker Jay Higgins combined for 271 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries, eight pass breakups and six sacks last season.

Defensive coordinator Phil Parker reloads with a number of talented secondary pieces, too. Graduate Sebastian Castro returns at the Cash, sophomore Deshaun Lee and graduate Jermari Harris are back at cornerback and graduate Quinn Schulte and junior Xavier Nwankpa return at safety.

Iowa ranked No. 7 nationally in total defense, surrendering just 282.5 yards per game. The Hawkeyes were even better in scoring defense, ranking No. 4 after allowing just 14.8 points per game.

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