May 14, 2012
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 -- University of Iowa students completed final exams last Friday, marking the end of a college career for some and the beginning of summer break for others.
The same can be said for Hawkeye student athletes, in particular members of the UI football program. Late last month, six former Hawkeyes were selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, marking the third straight year in which Iowa has had six players selected. With offensive lineman Riley Reiff being selected by Detroit with the 23rd selection, it also marks the third straight year Iowa has had a first round selection.
Along with the six draft selections, as many as five additional Hawkeye seniors signed NFL free agent contracts immediately following the draft.
For the underclassmen who will return next season, the end of classes means it is time for a break, even though it is a shorter break than most students will enjoy. Members of the Hawkeye football team will begin summer workouts, supervised by the strength and conditioning staff, in early June.
Two seniors-to-be who have learned the ropes of summer activities are quarterback James Vandenberg and defensive back Micah Hyde, who will be counted on to provide leadership this fall. Both will take a short break, but both are eager to move forward to the summer program.
"This is a very important phase for us, especially with a new offense," said Vandenberg. "So as much as we can outside of scheduled time, it is up to me and other skill position guys to meet, play catch, go through plays, and watch film; there are a lot of things we can do to get more in-tuned with the offense. There is no better time to do that than the off season."
Vandenberg and Hyde agree the summer is used for physical training, but that there is also mental preparation for the season involved as well.
"A lot of it is weightlifting and running," said Vandenberg. "But when we get together as an offense and as a group, that is mental reps, 7-on-7, throwing to the routes and going through the play combinations. There are a lot of mental aspects, especially with a new offense.
"It's a great experience having coach Davis around, being able to continually ask him questions about the ins- and-the-outs of the offense. The offense is something that will take time to get a hold of, but I feel I have a pretty good grasp now, and that's mainly due to coach Davis and the amount of time I was able to spend with him during spring and after spring ball. It's something you want to become second nature with all the play calls, and slowly but surely we are getting there. The summer is a great opportunity to continue doing that.
"It has been way better than I expected. Honestly, I thought changing to a new offense was going to be more difficult. Coach Davis does a great job of installing it and teaching it; I think all the guys have caught on real quickly."
On defense, Hyde says he knows what is ahead and how to prepare for the season.
"Going into my last year, I know how this works and what to expect," said Hyde, a starter since his sophomore year. "Summer workouts are going to be tough, that is the way it is supposed to be. Basically, the big thing about the summer is for conditioning, and getting in shape, preparing for August and the season to come. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get better.
"It's a good opportunity to meet new people and a good time for team bonding. We do our lifting and conditioning in the morning, then we do things together in the afternoon. It's a great chance to bond with young players, there's a lot of time to talk to younger guys. We're always working to get better, and coach Doyle puts us in a great position to do that, to get better every day."
Both Hyde and Vandenberg say they will take a short break from football.
"I'll go home for a couple of days, see some baseball games in Cleveland," said Hyde. "But in the end, you want to get back here working out, preparing for the season coming up. I get bored at home. I'll be here working out, preparing myself for the best."
For Vandenberg, the break means some time for enjoying the outdoors.
"I get away a little bit, said Vandenberg. "I'll probably be around here for a week after finals, then I'm actually heading to Canada to do some hunting. That is my escape. Then back in Iowa City until the start of fall camp."
The Hawkeyes report for the official start of practice during the first few days of August and open the season Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois at Chicago's Soldier Field.