Nov. 24, 2004
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NOTE: This article is one of five profiling the senior class of the 2004 Iowa Hawkeyes. It originally appeared in one of the football game programs.
Jonathan Babineaux knows something of season-ending injuries.
Last season, he left after the seventh game at Ohio State. And in 2001, he broke his leg during spring practice, which forced him out of the entire following season.
But for the two seasons that he’s been able to record statistics, Babineaux has made his mark on the Iowa football team.
He has recorded 43 solo tackles, 33 assists, 12 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks and one interception for 10 yards.
After just two seasons, and having switched from fullback his freshman year to the defensive line in 2002, the statistics leave little doubt why Head Coach Kirk Ferentz says he could use more players like Babineaux.
“Jonathan’s one of those guys where I wish I had four,” the coach said. “We could use a few at fullback, linebacker, tight end, and a few on the line too. He’s a very gifted football player.”
While the injuries have been disconcerting to the senior who has not been able to fully use his gifts, he doesn’t let them get in the way of the sport he’s played since the age of seven.
“I’m just out there playing for fun,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll stay healthy this year.”
“He’s gone through his share of adversity,” Ferentz said, “and that’s our lot in this sport. There’s one thing about being knocked out with injuries, you appreciate things a little more.
“I’m sure he’s ready to have a great senior season.”
“Jonathan’s one of those guys where I wish I had four. We could use a few at fullback, linebacker, tight end, and a few on the line too. He’s a very gifted football player.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
The 6-2, 280-pound native of Port Arthur, TX, doesn’t let the memories of past injuries interrupt his play.
“Just the excitement of the game makes me block everything out, and I have fun,” says Babineaux.
Given the nickname `Monster’ by his friends in Port Arthur for his domineering size, Babineaux started playing football at the age of the seven at the suggestion of his mother. She wanted her sons to be involved in an organized sport following the death of their father.
“My dad had passed, and she wanted us to be active in something,” he said. “I always liked it before I played it.”
Babineaux played at fullback, linebacker and defensive end while in high school. His performances impressed his team’s then-offensive coordinator, Carl Jackson, who returned to Iowa to coach running backs a year later.
“He sent me a few letters and he asked me to visit,” said Babineaux. “I liked it, so I came up.
“I think it was kind of a help (to have Jackson on Iowa’s staff). At least I knew someone was up here, and he trusted me. He took a chance, and I thought it was a good chance.”
Babineaux soon became a freshman starter at fullback for the Hawkeyes. After the 2000 season Ferentz came to him and asked his opinion of switching to the defensive line, which was about to lose Aaron Kampman to the NFL.
“He played very well as a fullback,” Ferentz said. “We made the move because we had a projected need on the defensive line.”
“I kind of figured I would end up on the D-line sooner or later,” Babineaux said, “but when Coach Ferentz made the decision and I agreed to become a defensive linesman, that helped me out. It helped me out because I didn’t get to play much the next season. That gave up me experience on the defensive line.”
The move was no doubt made easier by Babineaux’s personality, which Ferentz has described as “low key.”
“I just can’t say enough about him,” the coach said. “From the day he walked in here, he just acted like he belonged, in terms of the whole environment.”
“He’s another guy who has a quiet personality, but he’s a diligent worker.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com