There were times over the last few years when senior Joe Gaglione wondered if football was worth it.
“I’ve been through a lot since I’ve been here,” Gaglione said. “Missing the entire 2009 season and spring ball in 2010. I had shoulder surgery. Found out I had a sport hernia. It was a hard time, period.”
Gaglione was a 2-star recruit who didn’t have many other offers.
Hailing from the same high school as Ricky Stanzi, Gaglione had 22 sacks as a senior at Lake Catholic High School in Ohio. That was enough for Iowa to take a chance on him.
Against Northern Illinois, after four years and just seven career tackles, that chance paid off.
Coming off the bench, Gaglione had six tackles, the most of any defensive lineman, three tackles for loss — including a quarterback sack — and a forced fumble.
“It was definitely a very positive experience,” Gaglione said.
“It was good to get out there, get my first playing time.
“The first half I was a little bit nervous. The second half, the first play, after that, I felt good.”
Gaglione came out and tackled NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch for a loss on that play.
Two plays later, Gaglione sacked Lynch and forced the ball onto the turf, where Carl Davis fell on top of it.
“I was pretty excited,” Gaglione said. “First collegiate sack. You can’t put it into words.”
Like a lot of Iowa defensive lineman, Gaglione came to Iowa as a converted linebacker and was a bit light at 6-foot-3 and about 220 pounds.
He worked on getting bigger and stronger in the weight room but had the setbacks with injuries — shoulder, hernia and broken hand.
“That’s the hardest thing,” Gaglione said. “I’ve been playing since I was 8 years old. I had it taken away for over a year; that’s hard to do.”
When Gaglione wondered if he was on the right path, he said Karl Klug and Mike Daniels — a pair of guys now playing on Sunday in the NFL — would tell him to keep at it.
“You’re a good player, a young player, you still have time left,” Gaglione said. “I kept hard on my rehab. It paid off.”
Gaglione now is 264 pounds.
After trying to play defensive tackle last season, he is back in his more natural spot on the end.
“I came here as an end,” Gaglione said. “It’s more natural. But playing tackle last year, getting the game reps helped me, too.”
He is big enough to take on bigger offensive tackles and hold the edge.
He understands his job may get more difficult Saturday keeping Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz contained.
“You don’t want him getting out, especially as good of a runner as he is,” Gaglione said.
“It’s definitely going to be a chore, a task. We have to do it to the best of our ability.”
And despite having Matt Roth as an honorary captain Saturday, don’t expect a post-sack celebration.
“You’re not supposed to be doing that sort of stuff,” Gaglione said. “It’s good to celebrate with your teammates.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football