March 22, 2011
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 -- Classes resumed at the University of Iowa after a week of spring break, but those weren't students with pencils, pens and highlighters working overtime Monday in the player's auditorium of the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
Thirty-two National Football League scouts and five NFL assistant coaches converged on Iowa City to measure, time and talk to 14 former Hawkeye players who are eligible for the NFL Draft that begins April 28. Even without looking at the list of draft-eligible Hawkeyes, most of the scouts already know what the league is getting.
"At the University of Iowa they're coached well and they're coached hard," said Jeff Bauer, scout for the New York Jets. "These are smart, disciplined guys. Iowa keeps developing and developing and building its players."
"Iowa players are disciplined and well-coached in the small things," added Jeff Shiver, a scout for the Chicago Bears. "You know if they go through the rigors of this program, when they come out, you're not going to have any problems with them."
The former Hawkeyes who participated in Pro Day were defensive lineman Christian Ballard, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, punter Ryan Donahue, free safety Brett Greenwood, linebacker Jeremiha Hunter, linebacker Troy Johnson, defensive tackle Karl Klug, fullback Brett Morse, tight end Allen Reisner, safety Tyler Sash, long snapper Andy Schulze, quarterback Ricky Stanzi, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian and offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde.
"It went pretty well. It was a long, strenuous day, but everybody came to work with a lot of intensity," Ballard said. "It was good being in this atmosphere and working out with all your peers again. It was a good experience."
Of the last 82 senior starters at the UI, 75 have had an opportunity to be in an NFL camp and 34 remained on 53-player active rosters. This band of Hawkeyes has all 32 NFL teams drooling.
"We're talking about a group of guys that has given everything to the University of Iowa and its football program," said Chris Doyle, UI strength and conditioning coach. "When their careers come to an end, we as a football staff feel obligated to prepare them for the next level. These are some of the greatest guys that have ever come through here. To have the opportunity to help them prepare for that next step is something we get excited about. We take pride in it and we're happy to help them."
When Monday's workouts began, it wasn't just current Hawkeyes lending support. Also present were former Hawkeyes Pat Angerer of the Indianapolis Colts, Matt Kroul of the New York Jets and Tony Moeaki of the Kansas City Chiefs. Like the 14 Hawkeyes on display Monday, Angerer said he was nervous -- maybe too nervous -- for his Pro Day in 2010.
"If you can play football, you can play football," Angerer said. "It shows on film, it doesn't show up when you're doing a drill. (The scouts) want to see you compete and they want to see you work hard. Iowa guys do that."
"It was part of the process and you just have to do it," Moeaki said. "I had a lot of fun at Pro Day last year. You get to do all the testing and it's up to you to show the scouts what you can do."
Angerer and Moeaki handled `The Next Step' with relative ease. Angerer, a linebacker, recorded 88 tackles with a sack, and Moeaki, a tight end, caught 47 passes for 556 yards and three touchdowns.
NFL teams with assistant coach representatives were the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens and Panthers had quarterback coaches in attendance, which seems to bode well for Stanzi.
"You're always going to get a tough hard-nosed, disciplined football player from Iowa who knows the game," said Craig Ver Steeg, quarterbacks coach for the Ravens. "I spent a bunch of time with (UI offensive coordinator) Ken O'Keefe (Monday) morning. The Iowa coaches want to help their guys move on by giving as much information about them as they can. It's a great environment."
Stanzi said his Pro Day went well and he was happy to be back practicing in `The Bubble.'
"There's nothing better than being with your best friends on Pro Day on your home field and trying out for an NFL team," Stanzi said. "It's an unbelievable feeling."
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz was also present Monday and he enjoyed watching his former players once again show their talents. The most gratifying part of the day for him was observing 14 members of the 2010 team supporting each other during the day's drills.
"A couple of the NFL people were talking about the guys pulling for each other," Ferentz said. "They watch each other work and they pull for each other. That's a really nice aspect."
Bauer lives in Ankeny, Iowa, and he makes at least five trips annually to the UI. Proximity aside, traveling to Iowa City is the favorite part of his job.
"It is easily one of the best visits in the country," Bauer said. "I love it. Coach Ferentz talks to you every time and you feel welcome. It's a good experience."