Dec. 13, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- There were happy offensive backs on the University of Iowa football team earlier this week and it had nothing to do with the Hawkeyes accepting a bid to play in the 2014 Outback Bowl.
Junior running back Mark Weisman, with 1,752 career rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, was tickled. So was sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock, who in his first season as a starter, was sacked just 12 times.
To them, the good news is that junior offensive tackle Brandon Scherff -- all 6-foot-5, 315-pounds of him -- is returning to the UI for his senior season in 2014.
"I'm so happy," Weisman said. "He is a great teammate and a great friend. It's great to have a player like that coming back. It will help us in the future."
Scherff was named first-team All-Big Ten Conference and the Hawkeyes' offensive MVP. He is projected as a first-round draft pick this May, but that will have to wait a year.
"I love playing here and I can improve myself as a player so much in the pass blocking, run blocking, and getting smarter, more technique, and finishing at the second level. My family came up for the banquet (Sunday, Dec. 8); I sat down with coach Brian Ferentz and coach Kirk Ferentz and coach (Chris) Doyle. I knew I was going to stay -- that meeting confirmed my decision."
Ui offensive tackle
Riley Reiff entered the NFL Draft after his junior season and was selected in the first round by the Detroit Lions in 2012. Bryan Bulaga did the same two years earlier when he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the first round. On the other hand, Robert Gallery passed on a chance to be a first-round pick in 2003, stayed in school, and he was rewarded as the second overall selection in the 2004 Draft by Oakland.
"Coach Ferentz said we don't have to decide now, but he didn't know I had that decision made up in my mind," Scherff said. "He said we could talk to Robert, Reilly, or other Hawkeyes that played here. I said, `Don't worry about that, I'm staying.' His smile was big. He was happy, I'm happy, my family is happy."
Another person pleased with the news is sophomore center Austin Blythe. Scherff and Blythe are part of a Hawkeye line that assisted the offense in averaging 388.9 yards a game (188.5 per game on the ground).
"Austin was trying to get me to stay," Scherff said. "I didn't want to tell him right away, so I told him at the banquet. He was the first guy to know."
It was at the banquet where Scherff was named Roy J. Carver Most Valuable Player on offense.
"I'm honored. I wouldn't have gotten it without the five other guys that we put in on the offensive line," Scherff said. "It goes to all of us. It speaks for us up front, and if we keep improving, we can achieve a lot."
The Hawkeyes return for practice No. 4 on Friday after taking five days off for the postseason banquet and academics.
For Scherff, it is two finals down, one to go. And one big decision off his mind.
"It weighed pretty heavy on me, but once I got decided, it felt so good to get it over with," Scherff said. "Now I'm back to playing football."
Collegiate football. For one more season.
The Hawkeyes play No. 14 Louisiana State University in the Outback Bowl on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Kickoff is set for noon (CT).