Matt Tobin was going nowhere.
As a senior at Dyersville Beckman, the 6-foot-5 lineman had not gotten any scholarship offers and was considering trying Division III.
He had been down to visit Iowa, but he could tell he wasn’t real high on the list of priorities.
“They had me come to the little breakfast things,” Tobin said. “I just kind of sat in the corner and kind of hung out. The coaches talked to all the big name (recruits). I just hung out.”
In the spring of his senior year, long after signing day had come and gone, Tobin was fetched out of class by coach Bill Duffy.
“He told me Coach Morgan was on the phone,” Tobin said. “I was like, ‘Who?’”
That’s Iowa assistant coach Reece Morgan, who recruits in Iowa, and was the offensive line coach at the time.
“My coach had called Coach Morgan and said, ‘Just watch the tape,’” Tobin said. “If you like it, call back. If you don’t, I know what that means.
“Right after that, he sat down and watched it. They called back with the offer.”
Morgan and Iowa offered Tobin the chance to walk on. They didn’t have to offer twice.
Fast-forward to the first training camp a few months later. Tobin didn’t realize it at the time, but he was about to become the latest poster child for Iowa’s developmental program.
“I was surprised he was a walk on,” senior center James Ferentz said. “He was 6-foot-6, well built and his athleticism has been on display since he was a young guy.
“He came in pretty thin, but he definitely had the frame to put on the weight.”
The next three years were spent on the scout team and inside the weight room.
“I was always competing and trying hard. I just didn’t have, …. they always told me I had B-B guns going against 12-gages. It was true.”
By his junior year, Tobin had grown into a full-sized offensive lineman. He got his first start in the opener against Tennessee Tech.
But it was a few weeks before that Tobin knew he had finally arrived.
“We were matching tape, the meeting got over, and Coach Morgan was like ‘Tobin, why don’t you stay after,’” Tobin said. “He never says that to me. Usually, that’s something bad.”
But Morgan was able to tell him that he was going to be put on scholarship for his final two seasons.
“It was exciting,” Tobin said. “They recognize my hard work. Some walk-ons don’t get that honor.”
Since then, Tobin has started 14 of 17 games at left guard.
“He was a guy that came in, worked hard,” Ferentz said. “He defines what it means to be a walk on here at Iowa. He paid his dues, put in the time and started to produce on the field.”
Now 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, Tobin is part of an all-Iowa offensive line that is opening big holes for the running backs, and that hasn’t given up a sack over the past three games.
“We’ve gotten a lot better since that first week, and A LOT better since the beginning of camp,” Tobin said. “I think we can get better every week all throughout the season.”
Tobin and Ferentz are joined on the line by sophomore Brandon Scherff, redshirt freshman Austin Blythe and junior Brett Van Sloten.
The former walk-on is aware that most Hawkeye linemen end up with at least an invitation to an NFL training camp.
“I try not to think about that,” Tobin said. “But yeah, that’d be exciting.”
Hopefully, those NFL coaches take some time to watch the film.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football