Jan. 15, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
OMAHA, Neb. — Calvin Jones, Alex Karras and Robert Gallery, make room for Brandon Scherff, the most recent University of Iowa player to receive the Outland Trophy as college football’s top interior lineman.
Scherff won the award Dec. 11 in Orlando and officially received his trophy Thursday at the 69th award dinner at Doubletree Hotel Downtown. It was the largest crowd in the history of the event.
“It’s an honor to receive this award, but it would not have been possible without the help of my teammates, coaches, and support staff associated with the Hawkeye football team,” Scherff said.
As humble off the field as he was hostile on, Scherff returned to the UI for a fifth season in 2014 even though he was a shoo-in as a top NFL draft pick as a junior.
“I’m glad I made the decision to come back for my fifth year,” Scherff said. “I was able to achieve goals I set for myself: graduating from the University of Iowa — which I did in December — becoming a better leader, and improving as a football player, thanks to the coaching staff.”
Scherff was joined at the Outland Trophy Award Dinner by more than 100 friends and family from his hometown of Denison, Iowa. Also present were Hawkeye coaches Kirk Ferentz (and wife Mary), Reese Morgan (and wife Jo), Chris Doyle (and son Declan), Brian Ferentz, and Austin Showalter.
“Coach Morgan got the recruiting process started; coach Ferentz gave me the opportunity to play at the University of Iowa; Brian yelled at me every day and kept me on track to be a better player; and coach Doyle changed me from a 325-pound chubby dude coming out of high school to an all right football player. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
“I’m glad I made the decision to come back for my fifth year. I was able to achieve goals I set for myself: graduating from the University of Iowa — which I did in December — becoming a better leader, and improving as a football player, thanks to the coaching staff.”
UI senior offensive tackle
Since 2002, the University of Iowa has had six major football award winners and four others who went on to become All-Pro in the NFL. Only two programs (Nebraska and Oklahoma) have more Outland Trophy winners than Iowa.
“It’s kind of like your kids at home,” Ferentz said. “My wife and I have been fortunate to have raised five outstanding kids and you never answer the question `Who’s your favorite? Who’s the best?’ and all that kind of stuff. The thing I’ll tell you about Brandon is he is as fine of a football player as I have ever been around. He is a great football player on the field, but all the things he brought to our football team and to those around him that had the good fortune of working with him, is hard putting into words.”
Scherff called his three days in Omaha “an outstanding experience.” On Tuesday he attended a scholar-athlete luncheon, on Wednesday he attended the Omaha Downtown Rotary Club and visited Boys Town, and Thursday he held a news conference, posed for photos, signed autographs, and attended the award dinner where he was introduced by Kirk Ferentz.
“It’s amazing to see how things are possible if you work hard,” Scherff said. “Coach Ferentz gave me all the tools to succeed and I had great support in Iowa City.”
Scherff will remain in Iowa City to train with Doyle until the NFL Draft, where he is projected as a top 10 pick (he is a fan of the Minnesota Vikings). Scherff hasn’t decided if he will attend the draft in Chicago on April 30 or attend a get-together in Denison.
“You have to remember where you came from and you can never let that go,” Scherff said.
Ferentz said Scherff’s success started at home.
“It has been an unbelievable pleasure and thrill for all of us associated with the University of Iowa that worked with Brandon the past five years,” Ferentz said. “As much as we would love to take credit for what he is and who he has become, to me, it all started at home. He has a wonderful family, that’s where it all starts. We were fortunate to help watch him the last five years.”
Jones won the Outland in 1955, Karras in 1957, and Gallery in 2003.