Loyal to the End

March 2, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Loyal. That’s one word senior Jarryd Cole would like Hawkeye fans to remember him for after he plays his final game in a Hawkeye uniform. Cole plays his home finale at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Saturday against sixth-ranked Purdue.

“There’s nothing else I can give above loyalty,” said Cole. “When I committed to the University of Iowa, I committed to more than just a coach and a couple guys — I committed to a community, a state and its fans. The fans have invested in us, and I wanted to show them that I invested in them. I’ve appreciated everything the fans have done. They’ve been great.”

Cole and the Hawkeyes play at Michigan State tonight before the Kansas City native closes out his regular season Saturday in Iowa City.

Cole has battled multiple knee injuries and played for two different coaches, and was recruited by a third, during his Hawkeye career. Despite the adversity, Cole always remained positive and believes the hardships have made him a better person.

“Life isn’t always going to go your way,” said Cole. You’re always going to have a year or two that doesn’t go as planned, but you have to deal with adversity.”

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery praises the three-time captain’s dedication and leadership, and is thankful for everything Cole has given the Iowa program. McCaffery couldn’t have asked for a better individual to lead his first Hawkeye team.

“Jarryd’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached,” said McCaffery. “He’s not only a great leader in terms of what he says vocally, but also in terms of his work ethic. Nobody works harder than Jarryd. He is a rock. I really appreciate him in what he’s meant to me, our staff and our program as we move forward.”

Cole, who was the 2009 recipient of the Chris Street Award, is flourishing down the stretch. The last four contests, he is leading the team in scoring (13.5) and rebounding (6.5), while shooting the ball at a blistering rate of 84 percent from the free throw line and 73 percent from the field. He scored 15 points in Iowa’s last outing at Illinois.

Cole has served as a mentor to a number of Hawkeye players. Freshman Zach McCabe has been grateful to have Cole as the team’s leader.

“Jarryd’s an energetic guy,” said McCabe. “He’s always been there for us. Seeing that as a freshman, it makes me want to play harder for him and the team. I’m glad I was able to be his teammate.”

McCabe admits that he was a little scared of Cole the first time they met, but quickly warmed up to the 6-foot-7, 250-pounder.

“Jarryd’s a great guy to be around,” said McCabe. “He wants to know who you are and everything about you. “He’s a big loveable guy… like a teddy bear.”

Cole has been a terrific leader for McCaffery to point this youthful team in the right direction for future success.

“He’s been such a tremendous leader for this basketball team,” said McCaffery. “He has been everything I could have hoped for; I just wish we could have him another year or two.”

Cole believes the program is heading in the right direction and that he has helped pave the way for Hawkeye success in the coming years.

“Coach McCaffery is definitely the right man for the job,” said Cole. “We have a talented nucleus of freshmen who will be able to take the team where it needs to go. If a few years down the road I see this team in the NCAA Tournament, I’m going to look back and say that I was part of it. That’s going to feel real good, knowing that I was able to help build that foundation.”

Hawkeye fans have just one more opportunity to watch Cole play in Iowa City when the Hawkeyes entertain Purdue Saturday at 3 p.m. Cole will be recognized along with senior walk-on T.J. Sayre and three managers prior to the game.

“This has been a great ride, something I’ll remember forever,” said Cole.