Dec. 27, 2014
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FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — One year ago, Florida native Greg Mabin was helping the University of Iowa football team prepare for the 2014 Outback Bowl in Tampa. This week, the sophomore cornerback is preparing alongside his teammates for the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.
“We have been getting after it in practice,” said Mabin. “We are flying to the ball and going hard all the time getting ready for Tennessee.”
Mabin, who hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is one of four Hawkeyes from the Sunshine State, including punter Dillon Kidd (Deerfield Beach), quarterback Jake Rudock (Weston) and defensive lineman Daumantas Venckus-Cucchiara (Weston).
“It is always nice to be back in Florida,” said Mabin. “It (Jacksonville) is not quite home, but it is close enough. The weather sure is nice.
“Family and friends from all over are trying to come to the game.”
This trip to his home state is different for Mabin. This time around, he is preparing for Iowa’s eighth traditional January bowl game under head coach Kirk Ferentz as a starter.
“It was a great feeling,” said Mabin on winning the left corner job in the fall. “I have been dreaming of this my entire life, and to finally see it become a reality is truly a blessing.”
Mabin and the Iowa defense, which ranks 19th nationally in total defense and eighth nationally against the pass, are preparing for every aspect of the Volunteers offense.
“They have some weapons,” said the 6-foot-2 cornerback. “They are big, fast, and physical on the perimeter. They have a dual-threat quarterback and a capable offensive line, so we have to be ready for everything they are going to throw at us.”
Mabin came to Iowa as a wide receiver, and continues to learn and grow in his role on the other side of the ball.
“We recruited him at wide receiver; he also played defense in high school,” said UI defensive coordinator Phil Parker. “With his ability and length, he has to understand the game a little bit more on the defensive side, and he is improving.”
Mabin’s background at wide receiver has helped him transition in coverage, and he does not mind getting physical either.
“I am more of a cover guy, but I take pride in being physical and doing things the Iowa way,” said Mabin.
Sophomore Desmond King, who starts at corner opposite Mabin, has enjoyed watching his teammate grow into the position.
“Greg has been working hard, day after day,” said King. “I see him improving every week, and he keeps getting better.”
The TaxSlayer Bowl pairing Iowa and Tennessee will kick off at 2:20 p.m. (CT) from EverBank Field in Jacksonville on Friday, Jan. 2. The game will be televised by ESPN.