June 5, 2011

MIH: #1 James Vandenberg

The long wait if finally over for James Vandenberg. With graduation of Ricky Stanzi the keys to the car that is the Iowa offense were handed over to the Keokuk native and now he gets behind the wheel to drive it. Quarterback is the most important position on the field and right now, it appears that of the signal callers on Iowa's roster, Vandenberg is the leader of the pack and that is why he comes in at #1 on our list.

James Vandenberg
YEAR: Junior
MEASUREMENTS: 6-foot-3 and 212pounds
POSITION: QB
THE NUMBERS: Career passing stats: 47-95 for 515 yards, 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions

WHY VANDENBERG MADE THE LIST

After patiently waiting, this is the year of James Vandenberg. The Keokuk native who re-wrote the record books as a prep signal caller in the state of Iowa, spent the past few years learning behind Ricky Stanzi. Now Stanzi is a Kansas City Chief and the job is his, free and clear.

If we learned one thing this spring it is that any talk that Vandenberg wasn't the clear leader to take over for Stanzi was just that, talk. That, in and of itself is why Vandenberg sits atop the list of most indispensable Hawkeye heading into this season. That isn't meant to disrespect John Wienke or A.J. Derby, who looked a lot better this spring, but the gap between them and Vandenberg is there and can't be ignored.

Let's be honest, there is no position on the football field that directly impacts wins and losses more than quarterback. If you have a good quarterback, he can help you win games. If your quarterback struggles, you can expect more losses. How good Vandenberg is will become apparent starting in early September and it's really one of the bigger unanswered questions overall for the Iowa team. We saw flashes two years ago and liked what we saw from the strong arm signal caller against Ohio State, but he also struggled against Northwestern and Minnesota. Last year, we hardly saw him at all, as he appeared in just three games and threw just eight total passes. He will probably surpass that total in the first quarter of the first game of the season.

I'm in the lot of faith in him category with Vandenberg, but he is still a bit of a mystery at this level of football. In many ways, how he develops will help to decide how this Iowa team develops. One thing we know right now is they have a much better chance with him under center and that's why he comes in at #1 on our Most Indispensable Hawkeye list for 2011.


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