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Iowa football cracks top 20 of USA TODAY Sports’ post-spring 1-134 NCAA Re-Rank

With the spring months giving way to summer, it means college football is going to be here before we know it. It also means rosters are more or less defined.

For Iowa, that included the transfer portal departures of quarterbacks Deacon Hill, Joe Labas and Spencer Petras and wide receivers Diante Vines and Jacob Bostick. It also featured the return and then unceremonious departure of former five-star offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor.

Iowa helped itself a bit in the portal, too. The Hawkeyes brought in former Northwestern quarterback Brendan Sullivan, former Northwestern wide receiver Jacob Gill and walk-on interior offensive lineman Cade Borud.

Now that the roster reshuffling is more or less complete, it makes for the perfect time to get all of those wonderful way-too-early power rankings out there.

It’s no simple task putting together college football rankings.

It’s an even more daunting task to try and rank every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. But, fear not, USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg is willing to accept that challenge.

In Myerberg’s post-spring NCAA Re-Rank, the Iowa Hawkeyes check in as the nation’s No. 18 squad. Iowa is one of seven Big Ten squads inside Myerberg’s Re-Rank top 25.

That group also features No. 2 Ohio State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 10 Penn State, No. 14 Michigan, No. 17 USC and No. 25 Nebraska.

Given the offensive questions that still permeate Iowa City, a No. 18 national ranking seems more than reasonable.

Iowa does return its starting quarterback in Cade McNamara and some talented skill weapons in wide receivers Seth Anderson and Kaleb Brown, running backs Kaleb Johnson and Leshon Williams and tight end Luke Lachey.

Meanwhile, what the Hawkeyes bring back defensively is the largest reason for optimism. In ESPN’s post-spring SP+ rankings, the Iowa Hawkeyes’ defense boasted No. 2 returning production ranking nationally.

Iowa returns linebackers Jay Higgins and Nick Jackson who combined for 281 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, nine pass breakups, six sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception last season.

The Hawkeyes also bring back defensive backs Sebastian Castro, Quinn Schulte, Xavier Nwankpa and Jermari Harris. Up front, Ethan Hurkett, Deontae Craig, Aaron Graves and Yahya Black are all back as well. It should be a stingy unit for Phil Parker once more.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire