Who are the best players on the team Wisconsin is playing in any given week? We aim to find out and give you mini scouting reports on them so you can sound smart talking to your friends by saying “well, actually...” and then whatever smart thing we tell you. You’re welcome in advance for being the go-to friend in your group for Iowa football knowledge.
Iowa is basically the same team as Wisconsin, which is probably why we hate each other so much on the football field but like tailgating with each other off the field. The Hawkeyes always have a couple of standout players, usually along the line of scrimmage, that will end up getting drafted in the early rounds.
Who should you be on the lookout for this year when the Badgers and Hawkeyes meet?
Best Offensive Player: QB Nate Stanley, senior, No. 4
Yes, I could talk about Nate Stanley being a Wisconsin resident. Or I could talk about him not being recruited by Gary Andersen. I could even talk about the fact that two of Stanley’s high school teammates are on Wisconsin’s roster.
But I’m not going to do that.
Stanley, in all seriousness, has carved out a very nice career for himself in Iowa City. He’s thrown for 52 touchdowns over the past two seasons, and at 6’4” 243 lbs., he has all of the qualities that the NFL looks for in a “potential game manager” type. Stanley will likely be a Senior Bowl candidate in January.
Bonus Offensive Player: OT Tristan Wirfs, junior, No. 74
Wirfs is an absolute athletic freak show who will very likely be a first round pick by the end of this season. He’s going to run sub 5.1 in Indy at, like, 320 lbs. and have a 35” + vertical and his bench should be somewhere in the high 20’s or low 30’s.
Trust me on this,,,, he’s good.
(Editor’s note: Classic Owen, has to sneak an offensive lineman in.)
Best Defensive Player: EDGE A.J. Epenesa, junior, No. 94
A former 5-star recruit, Epenesa is an Iowa legacy and in the running with Chase Young from Ohio State for the best pass rusher in this upcoming draft class. Now, I’m going to type this out, and I hope this hits you guys the same way it sounds when you say it:
A.J. Epenesa had 10.5 sacks last season and played, like, 30% of their defensive snaps.
Iowa, maybe more than any school in the country values and rewards its seniors - and now with Parker Hesse and Anthony Nelson gone, Epenesa is front and center for all of the defensive end reps he can handle. That is bad news for opposing quarterbacks.