IOWA CITY — Several newcomers are making a quick impact on the Iowa football team.
Defensive end A.J. Epenesa, defensive back Matt Hankins, wide receivers Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Max Cooper and running back Ivory Kelly-Martin had standout moments Saturday during the Hawkeyes’ annual Kids at Kinnick open practice.
Epenesa, rated as a consensus top-30 recruit nationally, is already impacting things on the defensive front where Matt Nelson and Parker Hesse have been taking snaps at tackle as well as the end position at which they started last season.
Working primarily with the second team, Epenesa got to the quarterback four times on Saturday in a practice in which a touch was credited as a sack. He got to Nathan Stanley three times and Tyler Wiegers once.
“A.J. is off to a good start,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He has shown us he belongs on the varsity.’’
Just what entails will be determined in upcoming weeks.
Hesse said ends have been shifted to tackle at times to add athleticism to the defensive front, something that could be used situationally.
Ferentz said performance over the next couple of weeks will determine what true freshmen can help.
“We’ll learn more about them, see how much more they can absorb and grow and see who hits the wall,’’ Ferentz said. “They all hit it. Some already have. But if they can help, they’ll get a chance.’’
Quarells joins Hawkeyes: The paperwork for graduate transfer Matt Quarells was finalized in time for him to join the Iowa program on Friday.
Quarells ran a couple of drills in shorts on Saturday and will put on pads for the first time when the Hawkeyes practice Monday.
The New Mexico transfer has been in Iowa City for two weeks but could not practice until, as Ferentz put it, “he received Congressional approval.’’
Quarells has two years of eligibility remaining and will work into the mix as quickly as possible.
“It might be October, it might be September, we’ll just take it one day at a time and see how it works out,’’ Ferentz said.
Front five shuffle: Iowa mixed and matched its offensive line on Saturday, starting with Ike Boettger at left tackle, Ross Reynolds at right guard, James Daniels at center, Keegan Render at right guard and Sean Welsh at right tackle.
“We’re moving around a lot right now, just to be ready in case there is an emergency need during a game of shift to another spot,’’ Render said. “It’s more of that than anything else.’’
Off and running: Saturday was the first time Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz had a chance to watch graduate transfer James Butler work in a live-action situation.
“He’s been doing well, but I’m more impressed after today,’’ Ferentz said. “He will help our team.’’
Sidelined: A number of Hawkeyes watched Saturday’s practice in street clothes because of what Ferentz labeled minor setbacks.
Offensive linemen Levi Paulsen and Tristan Wirfs, linebackers Jack Hockaday and Nate Wieland and defensive end Levi Duwa were among players who watched from the sidelines.
Flag day: Iowa’s offense was whistled for seven false starts Saturday, something that led new offensive line coach Tim Polasek to have his group doing push-ups following the practice.