Kirk Ferentz doesn’t like to dabble in the transfer portal as much as others.

This offseason, however, may be different. Glaring needs litter the Iowa roster — especially on offense. And especially with multiple players transferring out even as a name quarterback arrives. Ferentz and his staff need to find help. And that help is likely to come through the portal. More players are putting their names in each day. It’s a process that keeps coaches and reporters on their toes.

Here are the 5 biggest areas where the Hawkeyes will look for help in the portal in the coming weeks. To no one’s surprise, the list has an offensive-side-of-the-ball flavor.


Alex Padilla, Iowa’s backup QB, has entered the portal. Spencer Petras could be done after 3 years as the starter, though he has a year of eligibility left. Even if he returns, the Hawks will be thin at QB with Joey Labas as the next guy in line.

Ferentz found a solution by nabbing former Michigan starter Cade McNamara out of the portal. That’s a home run get for Ferentz and his son Brian, the OC. They might still need another addition at the position. Hopefully McNamara helps attract other offensive skill position players to the Hawkeyes.

Offensive line

Iowa has recruited offensive linemen well, but development — especially this year — has been another story.

The Hawkeyes teach primarily a zone blocking scheme. It’s been known to be difficult for newcomers to come in and learn. But Iowa needs a veteran presence or 2 up front. The running game in 2022 was well below average. Protecting Petras was problematic as well.

If Iowa wants to get its offense moving in the right direction, it’ll need to land a solid lineman or 2 from the portal. Especially after Josh Volk announced he’s transferring.

Wide receiver

When Charlie Jones left for Purdue following the 2021 season, it left the Hawkeyes without an athletic playmaker on the outside. Production on the outside was virtually nonexistent in 2022, with only 2 receiving TDs coming from wideouts. And now WRs Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV have entered the portal.

Who’s going to catch passes from McNamara in 2023?

Finding suitable replacements won’t be easy. You know the nation took notice of Jones’ numbers at Purdue. Yes, some of it was the difference in QB play. But the system Ferentz runs compared to Jeff Brohm’s is like comparing a Ford Fusion to a Porsche. Receivers want targets. In Iowa City, those are few and far between.

Nico Ragaini could return but is likely out. Basically, Ferentz will be looking for a fresh receiving corps. The portal is always a good place to start. Jones and Nebraska’s Trey Palmer are 2 examples of receivers flourishing in 2022 after a change of scenery.

Running back

Production at running back was OK but not up to the usual Iowa standards. Kaleb Johnson fell short of 1,000 yards. There didn’t seem to be that home-run threat or game-breaking speed like the Hawks have had in years past.

Leshon Williams had his moments, but nothing special. Gavin Williams (43 carries, 138 yards) entered the portal. Iowa needs an impact player at this position.

Ferentz likes big, physical workhorse backs. If one comes along in the portal, don’t be surprised to see Iowa jump at the opportunity to land him.

Tight end

Losing Sam LaPorta to the NFL will sting. Luke Lachey, a sophomore, was a nice No. 2 option this year. Expect his targets to go up in 2023.

Steven Stilianos, the Hawks’ lone addition from the portal in 2022, will be looked upon for more production. Iowa can never have too many tight ends at the rate it uses them within Ferentz’s offense.

It isn’t a glaring position need like others, but tight ends flourish in Iowa City. If a formidable name pops up and shows interest, Iowa would be foolish not to add him to its roster.