April 14, 2013
WEST DES MOINES -- It has been four years since University of Iowa senior offensive lineman Conor Boffeli snapped the chinstrap for a little football at Valley Stadium.
Boffeli, a graduate of Valley High School in West Des Moines, returned to the site of many pleasant gridiron memories Sunday as the Hawkeyes held an open practice 120 miles from Kinnick Stadium.
"It's different coming back here," Boffeli said. "It was nice talking to my old coaches and seeing them and seeing my family. It's a nice experience; I'm glad I came back."
There were thousands upon thousands of fans from central Iowa glad to see the Hawkeyes practice right in their backyard.
Jeff from Ankeny made it to the Iowa practice, despite the fact that his wife and children were handling the chores of moving into a new home.
"This is very exciting," he said. "We have been season ticket holders for about 10 years and we have been to a couple spring games in Iowa City. It's fun to see them come to central Iowa."
"It's different coming back here. It was nice talking to my old coaches and seeing them and seeing my family. It's a nice experience; I'm glad I came back."
UI offensive lineman
"This is great for us," Regina said. "I want to see what the new team is going to be like. I'm watching to see how they are throwing and how they are catching."
A couple youngsters -- Ethan from Altoona and Bryce from Des Moines -- hung out by a fence separating them from the team locker room.
"I think they're going to do great," Ethan said of the 2013 Hawkeyes.
"It's exciting because I don't have to go all the way to Iowa City to watch a good team like the Hawkeyes practice," Bryce said. "I enjoyed seeing all the new quarterbacks."
Hawkeye sophomore Jake Rudock converted at least one fan in central Iowa during the two-hour practice.
"I think No. 15 is our guy," Bryce added.
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz thanked the personnel from Valley High School who helped the practice run smoothly.
"They couldn't have been more helpful," Ferentz said.
Sunday's practice was the ninth of 15 for the Hawkeyes this spring. By all accounts, it was an enjoyable break from the norm of being inside the indoor practice facility or on the turf at Kinnick Stadium. Although it was a nice change of pace for the Hawkeye coaches and student-athletes, it was also an opportunity to acknowledge and treat more than 10,000 of the best Hawkeye fans in the state.
"I want to thank the fans for coming out," Ferentz said. "The weather forecast wasn't good, but for the most part we dodged the worst stuff."