Dec. 24, 2009
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following first appeared in the Dec. 24 edition of the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, a free daily e-newsletter. For more information about the UI’s OSR, click HERE.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It would be hard to forget Shonn Greene’s 121-yard, three-touchdown, MVP rushing performance at the 2009 Outback Bowl, but how many University of Iowa football fans remember the go-ahead touchdown? It was a 6-yard reception from quarterback Ricky Stanzi to wide receiver Trey Stross with 7 minutes, 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Hawkeyes went on to win that game, 31-10, and on Tuesday, Jan. 5, they will play in their sixth January bowl game in eight seasons. Stross will be in attendance in Miami wearing his familiar No. 86 jersey after turning in a 30-catch regular season. He had four grabs during victories against Iowa State, Arizona and Arkansas State.
Stross and the Hawkeyes return to practice Saturday, Dec. 26, and will leave for the FedEx Orange Bowl on Sunday.
“Preparation-wise, it’s kind of like spring ball,” Stross said. “You kind of ease into it with a high emphasis on technique and fundamentals. Now we’re putting a little bit more game-planning in. As we draw closer to game week, we’ll emphasize more of the coverages and all the preparation for Georgia Tech.”
Stross, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior from Avon Lake, Ohio, contributed his share to a Hawkeye receiving corps that hauled in more than 15 passes per game and found the end zone 17 times. His 30 receptions tied Marvin McNutt for second on the team. Stross received the Hustle Team Award at the team banquet Dec. 12.
Stross refers to the pending FedEx Orange Bowl as “another battle of technique.”
“Georgia Tech is a very athletic group, which we expect, especially for a school in the ACC,” Stross said. “Defensive back-wise, I compare them to Michigan — they’re big, fast guys who want to run with you. It will be another battle of technique. We have some fast receives also, but we don’t want to get into a track meet. It will be a tough, physical, athletic game.”
Odds are high that it will also be the final football game for Stross. Leg injuries have taken their toll on the Hawkeye speedster, and on Jan. 6, he will begin giving his body a break.
“I wish my career didn’t have as many twists and turns, but I’m still hoping for a great outcome team-wise and individually,” Stross said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be able to come out with a win. I kind of want to give my body a rest after awhile. I’m going to settle down after the game and figure everything out. I’ve got some time.”
The primary academic interests for Stross were health and sports studies and English. He graduated Sunday, Dec. 20, and already has a couple job offers. Stross is also interested in a military career.
“I always wanted to join the military,” he said. “If I didn’t come to Iowa, I probably would have ended up at West Point or the Naval Academy and played football there. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do and I’ve been interested in and it has never really left my mind.”
Of course there is some unfinished business for an Iowa team that won 10 of 12 regular-season games and enters the bowl season with a No. 10 national ranking. Georgia Tech (11-2) is rated No. 9.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to be able to come out with a win. I kind of want to give my body a rest after awhile. I’m going to settle down after the game and figure everything out. I’ve got some time.”
“Every game we’ve played in, the scores have been pretty close,” Stross said. “We always have this feeling that one day it’s going to snap and we’re really going to get the offense going. This is another chance where it could happen. We have to make sure we’re prepared and practice well.”
Growing up in Ohio, Stross is no stranger to frigid winters and plenty of snow.
“I can’t wait for Miami,” Stross said. “It will be nice not to see snow for awhile. This is a good city to end on.”
This will be the third bowl game for Stross, who had one catch in both the 2006 Alamo Bowl and the 2009 Outback Bowl. The sense of football finality is beginning to sink in.
“I’m ready to take the next step in my life,” Stross said. “Football has always been just a game to me. I did it for fun. When it’s over, it’s over.”