IOWA CITY, Iowa — The public debut for Boone Myers as Iowa's starting left tackle was largely a disaster.
Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, it appears to have been just a rare bad day for the youngster set to replace Outland Trophy winner Brandon Scherff.
Myers looked nowhere near ready to take over for the fifth overall pick in the recent NFL Draft after a shaky workout performance earlier this month at Kinnick Stadium. But Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz remains high on Myers, who has held onto the starting job as Iowa prepares for its opener against Illinois State on Sept. 5.
"He's done a lot of good things too, and he's won a lot of battles. It's ironic, because that week he made progress. It was really clear to me that he was really improving," Ferentz said. "It didn't show up that Saturday. But that's part of the experience."
Myers isn't the only tackle Iowa will need to be game-ready in less than two weeks.
The Hawkeyes are hoping that Myers and fellow sophomore Ike Boettger can replace two longtime starters who were the bright spots for an inconsistent offense.
Myers began his career as a walk-on after starring as a tight end and defensive end in high school. But he impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a leadership award while redshirting in 2013, and the Hawkeyes put Myers on scholarship prior to last season. Simply earning the starting left tackle job at Iowa is a sign that the coaching staff truly believes in his abilities.
Iowa has had four left tackles — Scherff, Riley Reiff, Bryan Bulaga and Robert Gallery — taken in the first round of the NFL draft since 2004.
"He's not replacing Brandon. He's following Brandon, and to replace Brandon Scherff, who was one of the best players to ever play at this university, that's totally off the radar. What he has to worry about is just being the best he can be. I personally think he's going to be a pretty good player," Ferentz said.
Boettger, like Myers, is an Iowa kid who played everywhere in high school and has spent the last two years bulking up. Boettger was a tight end, quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back at Cedar Falls High, but after a redshirt season and another spent as a backup he's now at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds.
Boettger is penciled in as the starting right tackle. Junior Cole Croston is expected to spell the two youngsters as the first tackle off the bench.
"There's no question that there's going to be bumps in the road. But there's also no question that I think both of them are going to be really good players," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said of Myers and Boettger.
Perhaps the surprise of the offseason has been freshman James Daniels, the rare first-year offensive lineman who could start for Iowa.
Daniels began his career in the spring semester, and after roughly 30 practices he has already forced the coaching staff to find ways to get him on the field.
"He's clearly doing better than you'd expect a first-year guy (to do)," Ferentz said. "He looks pretty comfortable with the first two groups, so we'll just see how it goes."