Sept. 18, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg has had a fast start in his first month on the University of Iowa campus, but that has been quite alright with one of just three true freshmen to see action for the Hawkeyes in the first three games of the season.
VandeBerg (6-1, 170) saw his first college action in Iowa's win over Missouri State, grabbing two receptions for 17 yards. Not bad for a guy who didn't plan on being with the Hawkeye program until four days before camp began. The original plan for the native of Brandon, S.D. was to join the program for the spring semester. But when a scholarship became available for the fall, he jumped at the opportunity.
"I really didn't find out until four days before camp. It was whirl wind, but luckily I was able to get my head around it," said VandeBerg. "My plan was to stay at home, help coach at my high school and take some online classes instead of enrolling at Iowa."
Once a scholarship opened for this fall, the slender wide receiver wasted no time in getting to Iowa City and making an impression on the Iowa coaching staff.
"I really didn't have many thoughts going through my head, it was just kind of here it is, let's do it," said VandeBerg. "I knew coming in that I would have to be able to prove that I belong; I'm glad I was able to do that and be up with the two's (second unit). The older guys helped me out a lot, telling me what I needed to do and where I needed to be. They have helped me on the field and off the field."
VandeBerg joined the Iowa program with some impressive credentials. He earned elite all-state honors as a junior and senior, and helped his prep team finish as state runner-up as a senior with an 11-1 record. He holds school records for career receptions (136) and season (18) and career (35) receiving touchdowns. On defense, he holds school marks for longest interception return (105 yards) and interceptions in a season (nine). He totaled over 1,000 receiving yards as both a junior and senior at Brandon Valley HS.
"As a receiver he has done some good things," said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, following VandeBerg's first game action as a Hawkeye. "He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he'll grow as we go along. He's really practiced well and made some good catches. He tries to block, and he does what he's supposed to do. He's really picked things up quickly."
Playing his first game in Kinnick Stadium just over a month after arriving in Iowa City, VandeBerg said it has been all he thought it might be.
It was awesome, to say the least," said VandeBerg, of his first playing experience in Kinnick Stadium. "All I could think was `don't drop the ball'. I'm glad I have been able to step in and see the awesome that is Kinnick Stadium. Being with these guys, they have helped push me along and helped me be ready for game day. The biggest thing has been the speed of the game."
Iowa hosts Western Michigan Saturday in its final nonconference game of the season. Game time is 11:01 a.m. (BTN).