AMES — Iowa State will kick off spring football today without its two best defensive linemen.
In a Monday morning press conference, head coach Paul Rhoads announced that senior defensive tackles Rodney Coe and David Irving both underwent offseason shoulder surgery. Neither man will participate in spring drills.
“They are pretty aggressive right now with their rehab and what they are doing,” Rhoads said. “But you can only push a shoulder so far, especially with the way those guys have to punch and use their hands and shoulders. We will be very protective with what they do. We might get some individual stuff out of them by the time that spring is done but not team activity, no physical activity at all, which is very concerning to use because we are very thin at both the tackle and the end positions."
It is notable that Brandon Jensen, who would have been a senior, quit the team this winter. Because of the injuries and Jensen’s departure, two sophomores in Pierre Aka and Devlyn Cousin were listed as Iowa State’s starters on the interior line in a spring season depth chart that was handed out to reporters Monday morning. Aka himself spent the majority of the offseason recovering from a shoulder injury of his own.
The positive here is that underclassmen like Aka, Cousin, Vernell Trent and Robby Garcia will receive a plethora of extra reps this spring, which should benefit them in August.
“It will be invaluable by the time we get to the fall because we like to roll guys on the defensive line at both the tackle and the end position,” Rhoads said.
Regardless, neither Coe nor Irving had ever gone through spring drills while playing Division I football at the defensive tackle position. While expectations are still high for both men in 2014, there is no question that you would rather have them on the field than recovering from offseason surgery during the next month.
“We are going to have to be very smart with the team reps we do to get though practice and scrimmage situations,” Rhoads said. “I fully expect them, this summer to be doing everything that everybody else is.”
In addition to Coe and Irving, Luke Knott will miss the spring (we already knew this) as he is recuperating from offseason hip surgery. Redshirt freshman defensive end Justin Madison will sit out as he is attempting to come back from surgery on his ACL. Senior offensive lineman Bob Graham is still out due to a disc injury while junior wide receiver Tad Ecby is expected to miss the first week of drills due to an injury.
There is one suspension to report. Senior linebacker/nickel Jared Brackens will miss the first two practices of the spring due to a “compliance issue related to team expectations.”