Drew Ott's Big Adventure

Nov. 25, 2013

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 — Lloyd Christmas has nothing on University of Iowa sophomore Drew Ott.

Christmas, a character played by Jim Carrey in the movie Dumb and Dumber, rides a scooter with friend Harry Dunne into Aspen, Colo. Ott can top that adventure. Last summer the defensive end for the Hawkeye football team drove his mo-ped from campus in Iowa City back home to Trumbull, Neb., which is located 1 ½ hours southwest of Lincoln (by car, of course).

Forced to travel mostly back roads, Ott’s offseason ride covered 450 miles and lasted approximately 12 hours.

Ott returns to his home state Thursday with the Hawkeye football team, but the trip via charter flight from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Lincoln, Neb., will take 40 minutes, not half a day. The Hawkeyes (7-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten Conference) tangle with the Cornhuskers (8-3, 5-2) Friday, Nov. 29, in the Hy-Vee Heroes Game, with the winner securing at least a tie for second place in the Legends Division.

“I wasn’t offered (a scholarship) by Nebraska but Iowa fit me better anyway,” Ott said. “I needed to develop a lot. I wasn’t ready to get thrown into it — we have a great strength program here with (coach Chris) Doyle and I fit the mold more of an Iowan than a Nebraskan.”

As a true freshman, Ott was held out of the first seven games, but then played the final five, making three tackles and breaking up a pass. He had no statistics during the Hawkeyes’ 13-7 loss to Nebraska in the 2012 finale in Kinnick Stadium.

“It was a dawn-to-dusk type of deal. The only bad part was I got passed by a cattle pot, so I got covered in some juices. That wasn’t too much fun.”
Drew Ott
UI defensive lineman

Ott has contributed substantially more to Iowa’s football fortunes this season. In 11 games he has 46 tackles (6.5 for a loss), 2 ½ sacks, four quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble.

“I have been looking forward to this game,” Ott said of the Black Friday matchup against the Cornhuskers. “I have some friends on (Nebraska’s) team, and it will be fun coming home.”

This time, Ott’s 6-foot-4, 265-pound frame will get to Nebaska in an airplane seat, not on the back of a low-power, bicycle-like vehicle.

“I wouldn’t mind doing it again,” Ott said of his mo-ped expedition. “I’m a country kid, always driving my three-wheeler. I like to drive things around.”

Ott’s journey began at 9 a.m. and headed west on Melrose Avenue. Around Des Moines, he took Highway 14 to Lake Red Rock and then Highway 92 to Omaha. Once in Nebraska, he traveled back roads to Trumbull. He stopped eight times to refuel and “be safe.” There were no mechanical issues and he arrived home at 9 p.m.

“It was a dawn-to-dusk type of deal,” Ott said. “The only bad part was I got passed by a cattle pot, so I got covered in some juices. That wasn’t too much fun.”

Even with a Division I lineman on board, the mo-ped managed 80 miles to a gallon of gas. Ott still owns the vehicle — it has recorded 4,500 miles — and it is still his primary mode of transportation in Iowa City. He brought it back to the UI before starting his second year of classes; instead of a return ride to the Hawkeye State, Ott loaded it in the rear of his truck.

There are similarities between the football programs at Iowa and Nebraska. Life and laws in the border states are similar as well, with one small difference: in Iowa, mo-ped drivers are not required to wear a helmet like they are in Nebraska.

“I didn’t wear a helmet in Iowa, don’t tell my mom,” Ott said. “I had to put one on when I got to Nebraska.”