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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By MADISON PETERSEN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — As the 2017 season approaches, defensive end Parker Hesse rattles off a laundry list of things he would like to improve upon, but no line item ranks higher than leadership.
“There’s a long list of things I need to work on this year — getting stronger and faster, having more mobility, and a lot of things fundamentally skill oriented — but I’d say the biggest thing I want to focus on is improving my leadership,” said Hesse. “I want to be someone that younger guys can look to as an example when they are learning the way we do things at Iowa.”
Hesse learned early in his career how things are done as a Hawkeye. He was in the mix at defensive end as a freshmen in 2015, playing behind seniors Nate Meier and Drew Ott. Hesse stepped into the starting role when Ott was lost for the season because of injury, but he saw firsthand how Ott never relinquished the opportunity to lead from the sideline.
“Being a leader is something that you constantly have to work on and grow,” Hesse said. “It’s not something you can just develop or that you have. It’s just like playing football, you have to keep working at it every single day and keep adjusting things in yourself to be a good leader.”
This summer, the junior looks forward to new opportunities to practice football, improve his leadership, and spend time with his fellow defensive lineman.
“We just had a couple weeks off and that was some much needed time away to rest and recharge,” said Hesse. “Now that we’re back, we’ve been lifting, running, watching film, and doing some drill work at practice. Afterwards, we like to hang out, play cards, go fishing, or go camping with the camper that some of the defensive linemen bought together. I think it helps us bond as a unit.”
Hesse has become an essential component of the Hawkeyes’ defense during the past two seasons.
He has started 21 games, recording 37 tackles last season, including eight tackles-for-loss and four sacks. He also added three pass break-ups, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery to earn All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition.
“Parker has played a lot of good football already,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “We feel good about him and the other guys at his position. Overall the defensive line has a chance to shape into a solid group.”
Hesse believes these past two seasons have given him the experience and consistency he needs to help lead the future of Hawkeye football.
“My experience is my biggest strength as a leader,” said Hesse. “Having time on the field is something that you can’t buy or teach. It has to be learned hands on. The other things I try to focus on are being consistent and reliable. No matter what, I want people to know what they can expect from me and I’ll give a consistent level of effort.
“As you get older, it’s your job to pass down the culture and standards of Iowa football to the younger players. First and foremost, it starts by living it yourself by being out in the front of the line and leading. Three words that coach Ferentz stresses to us are ‘Tough, Smart, and Physical’ — that is Iowa football. Those are the three things I try to exemplify and instill in our young guys.”
The UI Athletics Ticket office is now accepting orders for three-game mini-packs, while single game tickets for games versus Wyoming (Sept. 2), North Texas (Sept. 16), Illinois (Oct. 7), and Purdue (Nov. 18) are now on sale. The mini-packs are $185 and include attending three of the seven home games on the 2017 schedule. Fans can learn more information and purchase mini-packs and single game tickets at hawkeyesports.com/swarm17 or by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS.