Heroes Come in All Shapes and Sizes

July 29, 2011

Big Ten Football Media Days (Friday)

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.

CHICAGO — Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Take the football heroes from the 2010 University of Iowa football team that completed its season with a third consecutive bowl victory.

Micah Hyde stands just 6-foot-1. But the junior defensive back took an interception and returned it 72 yards for the go-ahead points in Iowa’s 27-24 win against No. 12 Missouri in the Insight Bowl. He also put the finishing touches on a 66-yard scoring return of a Kirk Cousins pass that extended the Hawkeyes’ lead to 17-0 against No. 5 Michigan State in a game they won, 37-6.

Despite being one of the smaller starters on Iowa’s defense, Hyde is a big-time football hero. And, like just about everyone, the Fostoria, Ohio, native has heroes of his own.

“Picking heroes in my life is easy,” Hyde said. “The No. 1 hero is my mother. She got divorced when I was real little and she raised me and the rest of my family. She never had time to shop for herself because she was always paying for our stuff.”

Another hero for Hyde is Ken Watson, a former staff member at Fostoria High School, who provided friendship and farm work opportunities.

“He was there for a lot of kids in the community who didn’t have a lot of money,” Hyde said. “We would work on his farm almost every weekend and in the summer. He would be portrayed as a hero to a lot of people.”

Sophomore James Morris stands 6-2 and weighs a solid 225 pounds. He played all 13 games in 2010 as a first-year middle linebacker and finished fourth on the team with 70 tackles.

Morris is a football hero. He grew up in the shadows of Kinnick Stadium in nearby Solon, Iowa, and he knows that student-athletes at the UI are adored by thousands in the state.

“People idolize us because we’re good at sports, which, for whatever reason, is something our culture is all about,” Morris said. “Be careful who you decide to make your heroes; investigate and make sure it’s not just because they’re good at catching touchdown passes, because you could end up being disappointed.”

Heroes for Morris are Martin Luther King, Jr., a prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States.

“People idolize us because we’re good at sports, which, for whatever reason, is something our culture is all about. Be careful who you decide to make your heroes; investigate and make sure it’s not just because they’re good at catching touchdown passes, because you could end up being disappointed.”
James Morris
UI middle linebacker

“Heroes are people who stand up for what they believe in against all odds,” Morris said. “They mortgage their lives for what they believe in and that takes a tremendous amount of heart and courage. Those are things I look for in a hero.”

Sophomore Marcus Coker is a physical specimen among Big Ten Conference running backs. The 230-pounder from Beltsville, Md., rushed for 219 yards and scored two touchdowns before being named offensive MVP in the Insight Bowl. He also gained 129 yards during Iowa’s victory on the road at Indiana.

Coker is a football hero. To him, fire chiefs should be admired, but so should “regular people” — like his mother, Tammy Money.

“She does what she has to do every day even though it’s miserable and she doesn’t like it,” Coker says. “She does it to take care of me. Her supporting me by herself makes her my hero.”

Senior Broderick Binns is 6-2, 261 pounds — an average-sized college defensive lineman. He returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown to tie the game against Arizona, 27-27, in the third week of the season, helping Iowa dig out of a 20-point halftime deficit in Tucson, Ariz.

Binns is a football hero. The native of St. Paul, Minn., defines a hero as someone who faces — and overcomes — adversity. He idolizes family members who helped him hurdle life’s obstacles and says other heroes include Martin Luther King, Jr., and South African president Nelson Mandella.

“Heroes are people who face a ton of adversity, make it through, and impact millions of lives,” Binns said. “The impact of those heroes is still with us today.”

Junior quarterback James Vandenberg has looked forward to becoming a role model and hero since his first days on campus as an understudy to Ricky Stanzi. At 6-3, 212, Vandenberg is a stereotypical model of a Big Ten quarterback. He understands the part athletes play in shaping the younger generation. In fact, he reveres New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

“(Brees) has all the Big Ten records and he was awesome to watch in college,” Vandenberg said. “He has had ups and downs throughout his career; they thought he was done when he had shoulder surgery, but he bounced back. Fundamentally, he’s probably the best.”

To Vandenberg, a hero is somebody the masses look up to because they are a step above and accomplish extraordinary things on a regular basis.

Kickers typically aren’t the most physically-imposing members of any football team. Sophomore Mike Meyer — all 180 pounds of him — made 31 point-after kicks and 14 field goals to lead the UI team in scoring with 73 points.

Although small in stature, Meyer is a football hero. A hero in Meyer’s life is his father, Brian.

“He leads by example and he’s not afraid to speak out,” Meyer said. “He knows what’s right and he won’t do anything to encourage anything that’s not along the straight lines.”

Yes, heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Look for a special announcement about “Heroes” and the annual football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Nebraska Cornhuskers later this morning.