Players to watch: Northern Iowa


Enyi Uwazurike talks to reporters at Iowa State media day August 9. Uwazurike returns for his sixth season on the defensive line for Iowa State.

Sam Stuve

Iowa State: Enyi Uwazurike, (DL)

Like I said in this week’s Sports Weekly podcast, Iowa State’s defensive line is one group that I think will be interesting to watch in the season opener. 

While I said that I will be watching this group as a whole and how rotations will work, I am ready to see what kind of start Uwazurike will have to his final season.

Uwazurike has totaled just three tackles and one pass breakup in the last two season-openers. In his time at Iowa State, Uwazurike has been productive for the Cyclones, racking up 102 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and six sacks in four seasons.

Having Uwazurike get off to a hot start to the season would be big for the Cyclones, especially considering they lost JaQuan Bailey and Latrell Bankston in the offseason. 

Northern Iowa: Jared Brinkman, (DL)

For Iowa State, the position group that arguably received the most praise in terms of growth is the offensive line. Having to block Northern Iowa’s Jared Brinkman presents a challenge to that group to open the season to see where they’re really at.

Brinkman was the Missouri Valley Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in the 2021 spring season.

The Iowa City, Iowa, native racked up 38 tackles, had nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and forced two fumbles in seven games, which led him to be a consensus FCS All-American. 

Over the last two seasons Brinkman has been one of the most productive defenders on the defensive side of the ball for UNI, racking up 121 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, and 16 sacks in the last two seasons (22 games). 

Brinkman played in the 2019 game against Iowa State, finishing with five tackles and a forced fumble.