July 26, 2013
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.
CHICAGO -- University of Iowa offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten has served on the team's Leadership Group since 2010, but heading into senior season, he is ready for even more responsibility.
"The older you get, the more people look up to you," said Van Sloten on Thursday at the 2013 Big Ten Football Media Days in Chicago. "Coach Ferentz and his staff pulled me aside and said I need to be more vocal, which is something I have worked on. I led by example for a long time, but being more vocal is the next step."
Van Sloten wants to lead and put the four-win 2012 season in the rear view mirror. He is looking for the Hawkeyes to be more consistent collectively on both offense and defense, which will lead to better results on Saturdays this fall.
"Our focus is improving each day during camp and then through our first opponent," said Van Sloten, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound lineman from Decorah, Iowa. "We want to be consistent game-after-game."
The Hawkeyes will be experienced along the offensive front with all five players who are listed as first team players on the depth chart having started at some point in their careers. Van Sloten and junior Brandon Scherff are penciled in as starting tackles, senior Conor Boffeli and sophomore Jordan Walsh at guard, and sophomore Austin Blythe as the No. 1 center.
"In order for us to do be more consistent, we need to have a little more sense of urgency in the trenches," he said.
Iowa's first opponent is Northern Illinois, a team picked to win the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, on Aug. 31. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies, 18-17, in the 2012 season-opener in Chicago's Soldier Field. This year the game is in Kinnick, which excites Van Sloten.
"The best part about playing at Kinnick Stadium is the fans," he said. "There is never a game where they aren't ready to rumble. I feel like it's the best stadium in the nation."
Van Sloten had an opportunity to meet and greet fans on a more personal level during the past two summers while serving as an intern with the University of Iowa Foundation. It is an experience he cherished and learned from.
"Working at the foundation provided me the opportunity to see both sides of the coin," said Van Sloten, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. "You play football and sometimes take for granted how you get that opportunity for a scholarship. The experience provided me the opportunity to see and thank the great donors and fans that are loyal supporters."
Single-game tickets for all seven Hawkeye home contests inside Kinnick Stadium are available on hawkeyesports.com. Iowa opens the season Aug. 31, hosting Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. (CT).