Cronk Provides Experience For Hawkeyes' Offensive Line
Kirk Ferentz figured he was going to need an offensive tackle, since Tristan Wirfs appeared headed to the NFL draft.
When the Iowa coach saw on his aging iPad — his description of it — saw Indiana's Coy Cronk was planning on leaving as a graduate transfer for his final season, he thought he should investigate.
Once Cronk entered the NCAA transfer portal, Ferentz and his staff pursued.
Cronk, who missed almost all of last season with an ankle injury, decided Iowa would be a good place to finish his college career, transferring to start the spring semester.
Cronk, who started 40 games with the Hoosiers, provides the Hawkeyes with maturity at a key position, something Ferentz appreciates. With Cronk and left tackle Alaric Jackson, the Hawkeyes have offensive-line bookends who have combined for 74 starts.
"I know he’s an experienced player," Ferentz said on Wednesday "We’ve talked about that before — that’s a position that’s really tough for a young guy. It’s hard to play out there if you’re 18 years old. It’s not easy. He’s got a maturity to him that’s different than an 18-year-old player."
Iowa director of recruiting Tyler Barnes was in on Cronk's recruitment out of high school when he was the director of player personnel at Vanderbilt in 2015, so there was a connection to Cronk.
Cronk was a team captain with the Hoosiers, and was on the preseason Outland Trophy watch list at the beginning of last season. He started at left tackle in the 2016 season opener as a true freshman, and never missed a start until he suffered his injury in a game against Connecticut.
"He wanted a change of scenery, for whatever reason," Ferentz said. "He was just a good match. With Tristan leaving, it was good timing."
Ferentz said the ankle injury is "nothing we’re concerned about."
Getting a transfer from another Big Ten school isn't awkward, Ferentz said. The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers don't play in the 2020 season, and would only meet if they were both in the Big Ten championship game. Then, Ferentz quipped, it wouldn't matter since both teams would be happy to be there.
"I think ultimately you want a player to go where he’s going to be happiest," Ferentz said. "You certainly don’t want a guy on your team who’s not happy — that’s not good for anybody. The rules are what they are."
The Hawkeyes lost Wirfs, defensive end A.J. Epenesa and safety Geno Stone as early entries to the NFL draft. Running back Toren Young also left with the intention to pursue an NFL career.
Finding a player like Cronk certainly fills one opening.
"We'll keep an open mind for the whole team," Ferentz said. "Any way we can improve our team. We'll look at every position possible.
"If somebody's out there that makes sense, then will c
"We don’t really swim real deep in those waters (the transfer portal)," Barnes said. "But we certainly are aware of who’s in there. If we have needs, we’ll certainly look. But it’s not the first place we look."