By HANNAH OSSMAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa Director of Player Development Broderick Binns relates with the football team, being removed seven seasons from playing here himself.
Binns played defensive end for the Hawkeyes from 2008-11. In his time as a student-athlete, he appeared in 51 games, tallying 179 tackles, 13 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, and 21 pass breakups. As a junior, he recorded 36 tackles and intercepted a pass from Arizona’s Nick Foles to return for a touchdown. His success as a Hawkeye landed him a stint in the National Football League with the Arizona Cardinals.
“Not everyone is going to play in the NFL,” Binns said. “When I was done playing [for Iowa], I had a brief shot at the NFL, but it didn’t work out for me. I was stuck in limbo.”
Lucky for Binns, he had a mentor in Chigozie Ejiasi the Director of Player Development, while he was at Iowa. Ejiasi helped Binns find his way after leaving the NFL.
“He actually started this position here at Iowa,” Binns said. “[Then he] got a job with the Tennessee Titans helping out their rookies and vets.”
Now, Binns takes the knowledge he learned from being a student-athlete and from his mentor to help the Hawkeyes and takes pride in mentoring the football team, whether it be in academics, community service, or basic life skills.
“My job is to help the guys transition from high school to college,” Binns said. “Anything they need from ‘How do I do laundry?’ ‘Where is this class?’ ‘Where is this building?’ or ‘How do I sign up for this initiative?’ I’m the guy that they contact.
“With me playing at Iowa, I know Iowa City. I know the lay of the land. Coach [Kirk] Ferentz is still the head coach. He was my head coach, too. They trust what I’m saying is true because I’ve been in their shoes, and I lived what they’re living right now.”
Binns aims to aid the student-athletes in continuing their success once school is over and they are done with football.
“My job and my goal is to make sure our guys aren’t stuck in limbo,” Binns said. “We do a networking night, so our guys can start building their network now, so when they do need it, they’ve got contacts that they can call and get set up with a job.”
Success is a big part of Iowa football. This includes much more than winning games, academics, and landing jobs after college. Giving back to the community is huge and Binns is in charge of organizing visits for the student-athletes and organizations.
“During the season, we can’t do much community service with practice, games, and classes, but in the spring and summer, we do the bulk of our community service. I’m the middle man, so whenever a guy wants to do something, I can find it for him and coordinate with the Ronald McDonald House, [University of Iowa Stead Family] Children’s Hospital, Salvation Army, or a similar organization.”
Community service is not mandatory for players but is valued by all involved. The Hawkeyes choose which organization they would like to go to, and Binns arranges the logistics of them getting there and even accompanies the athletes on occasion.
“We don’t have a requirement for hours. When guys want to do community service, they do it willingly,” Binns said. “We have a lot of guys that want to go over to the children’s hospital since ‘The Wave’ has taken off. When I take guys over to the children’s hospital, some will stay longer than I can stay. They like forming bonds within themselves, rather than me having to do it all the time. We have guys that will continue to go visit the family without me being there, and there’s something special about our guys and them wanting to go do community service.”
The Hawkeyes head to Minnesota on Saturday for their first road game of the season. Kickoff is 2:40 p.m. (CT) at TCF Bank Stadium and will be televised on BTN.