Home Sweet Home

Nov. 19, 2010


IOWA CITY, Iowa — All good things must come to an end, they say. For 26 University of Iowa football seniors, Saturday marks the end of an era. For these players, Saturday’s contest against Ohio State is Senior Day and it will be their final game in Kinnick Stadium.

“It’s crazy to think it’s my last game at Kinnick,” said senior defensive end Adrian Clayborn. “It’s kind of sad.”

Some of the Hawkeyes — like Clayborn — are projected to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. Others will earn their degree, and strapping on the helmet and playing football will be just a memory. Saturday will be their last home game taking on an Ohio State team that they have not beaten in their Iowa careers. While the impact of Senior Day is sure to be felt as the Hawkeyes come out of the tunnel, beating Ohio State is what the players are focusing on.

“Even aside from Senior Day, beating Ohio State would be huge if we get the win,” said senior tight end Allen Reisner, who is a semifinalist for the Mackey Award. “We just have to do the preparation this week and hope for the best. (Losing) just builds up. If you keep losing to a team, you always want to beat them even more.”

Iowa took Ohio State to overtime last year, but ultimately fell just short, 27-24. UI senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi was unable to play after injuring his ankle the week prior against Northwestern. Stanzi, an Ohio native, is not dwelling about playing his home-state team for the first time.

In fact, Stanzi said his favorite team growing up wasn’t even Ohio State. He said he was a big Ki-Jana Carter fan, and wore Carter’s jersey. That didn’t mean he was a Penn State fan, though. For him it was just about playing football.

“I dreamed of playing college football,” said Stanzi. “I’m very blessed and honored to have a chance to play in the Big Ten and playing with coach (Kirk) Ferentz.”

Stanzi got his chance when he decided to come to Iowa. He arrived on campus in 2006, just like every college newcomer.

“I just wanted to know where my classes were. Where do you buy a moped?” said Stanzi with a chuckle. At the time, he had no thoughts of building his now-impressive passing resume.

“When you get here there’s so much thrown at you, you don’t have time to think about how good you want to be,” said Stanzi. “You just kind of go out and work hard.”

After five years of hard work, 6,855 yards, 53 touchdowns, and more importantly, 25 wins later, the hard work has paid off for Stanzi and his fellow Hawkeyes.

“You think about it a little bit, and understand the work you’ve put in as a team and as a senior class, and all the things we’ve done together to get to this point,” said Stanzi. “You kind of remember where you started at as a freshman.”

Stanzi’s roommate and senior middle linebacker Jeff Tarpinian came in with Stanzi in 2006. Stanzi, along with senior wide receiver Colin Sandeman and senior fullback Brett Morse, live in a house together.

“All my best friends, we’re all seniors and it’s our last year together,” said Tarpinian. “Who knows where we’ll all be in a year or two from now. The last time at Kinnick with the fans…it’s going to be special. We have the best fans the country, so it’s something you can’t really describe.”

Tarpinian will likely dress, but not play, against Ohio State after aggravating a stinger that has plagued him during his senior season.

“I couldn’t move my arm at all Saturday,” said Tarpinian. “My range of motion is getting a little better, but it’s still not great.”

Another senior, free safety Brett Greenwood, will be playing, and was named one of the team captains by his teammates for the last home game.

“It was nice to be recognized,” said Greenwood. “Hopefully I can go out there and help our team win.”

Greenwood has done his part all season for helping his team win games. He leads the Hawkeyes with four interceptions, and has also registered 41 tackles.

For Greenwood, Tarpinian, Stanzi, and Clayborn, and all other seniors, Saturday against Ohio State will be their last chance in front of the Kinnick crowd; their last chance to walk out of the tunnel to “Back in Black;” and, of course, their last home game.

“Running out of that tunnel every Saturday with my teammates,” said Clayborn, “It feels like home.”

Ah yes, Kinnick Stadium — home sweet home.