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Player’s dad trusts coaches

[ 12 ] January 26, 2011 |

The father of a hospitalized Iowa football player received a text message from his son last week boasting about his performance after a taxing workout.

The stopwatches were running as the Hawkeyes cranked out 100 squats, and freshman linebacker Jim Poggi texted his father, Biff, with his time: 17 minutes.

“Obviously, they’re thinking about time,” Biff Poggi said Wednesday. “They’re all competitive and they’re competing. That was a badge of honor for him — and look where it put him.”

Jim Poggi and a dozen other players remained hospitalized Wednesday at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics with an apparent case of rhabdomyolysis, a muscle injury syndrome triggered by heavy exercise that can cause kidney damage in severe cases.

Meanwhile, school and medical officials continued to examine what transpired during the first week of the team’s winter workout period that left players complaining of extreme soreness, fatigue and discolored urine.

“It is scary,” said Biff Poggi, who coached his son in high school at Baltimore’s Gilman School. “Your mind goes to the worst kind of spot. Then when I found out it was more than just Jim, it’s concerning. You have all of the normal concerns about the protocols (and) what’s going on.

“This is an odd thing. This isn’t something you read from every program every week, every year. You do have concerns about it. What I’m pleased about is I’ve been assured they’re looking at everything to find out what the story was on this. I think it’s really important that they get to the bottom of it.”

Poggi and Iowa director of football operations Paul Federici laid out some of the details of Iowa’s recent workout program Wednesday during a news conference at the school. Poggi said he volunteered to answer questions because he thought he could clear up some of the rumors that started swirling Tuesday when the school issued news releases stating 12 players had been hospitalized with symptoms likely related to their recent workouts.

The Hawkeyes started their winter training phase Jan. 20 following a three-week layoff after Iowa’s 27-24 victory against Missouri in the Insight Bowl.

Federici said the players were made aware that the team’s winter training period is “an important and pretty ambitious part of the offseason workouts.” He said the workouts are similar to ones the program has used in the past.

“I would imagine most of them didn’t do anything (during the three-week break),” Biff Poggi said. “I could tell you (Jim) didn’t do anything except eat a lot and lay around, and then (Jan. 20) was kind of the first day back. You know, it was a lot of work.”

Biff Poggi said the Iowa players went through a rigorous lower-body session on the first day of winter workouts. He said it required players to squat a certain percentage of their body weight 100 times. The squats were timed and followed by sled work.

Poggi said his son complained that night of “severe quad pain” that worsened throughout the weekend.

“He was working on stretching and going to the steam room in his sweats and trying to loosen up and all of those kinds of things, and it actually didn’t get any better,” Biff Poggi said. “It actually got worse.”

Last Thursday’s lower-body session was followed Friday by a similar phase geared toward the upper-body, Biff Poggi said. The Hawkeyes took the weekend off before returning for more lower-body work Monday. Jim Poggi was admitted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics after Monday’s workout.

“As a father, I’m concerned,” Poggi said. “Obviously, when your son is admitted to the hospital, that’s a concern.”

Poggi said he was pleased with the responsiveness from the Iowa coaches and medical staff and the treatment his son has received. He said he’s had at least five conversations in recent days with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and has had continual contact with linebackers coach Darrell Wilson.

“As a high school coach, I’ve sent over eighty-some kids to play Division I football, and I do not trust anyone more than I trust Kirk Ferentz,” Poggi said. “My son had a chance to go to Texas and Ohio State. They were the last (other programs on his list). He came to Iowa because of the character of Kirk and his people. That, to me, is rock solid.

“There’s not a finer human being on the planet to go play for than Kirk, and my son’s experience here has been amazing. He loves this place. Typically, when you send kids away to play football, the first year is not a great year — a lot of whining and wanting to come home. He has loved it.”

Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or ahamilton@press-citizen.com.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andy Hamilton: University of Iowa graduate Andy Hamilton is originally from Williams, Iowa, and started at the Des Moines Register in August after 12 years at the Press-Citizen. He covers wrestling for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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