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Has Iowa found next great offensive lineman?

[ 0 ] April 20, 2013 |
Brandon Scherff has 'potential' to become the next Iowa offensive lineman drafted into the NFL. (Charlie Litchfield/The Register)

Brandon Scherff (68) has “potential” to become the next Iowa offensive lineman drafted into the NFL, coach Kirk Ferentz says. (Charlie Litchfield/The Register)

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Marshal Yanda was in the Iowa football complex last week, catching up with some of his former Hawkeye coaches and talking about winning the Super Bowl as a starting offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens.

Yanda is one of 13 Iowa offensive linemen to get drafted by an NFL team since 2003. The next great one? Left tackle Brandon Scherff may have what it takes.

“He’s got the potential,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Physically, he’s got some real gifts. And more importantly, he’s got a great mindset. When you think about all the guys that we’ve had the great fortune of coaching, Marshal was different than (2003 Outland Trophy winner) Robert Gallery. And Robert was different than whoever you want to recite. But the attitude was the common denominator. And Brandon’s got that.”

Scherff, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound junior-to-be from Denison, was in the midst of a breakthrough season at left tackle in 2012 when he broke his leg and suffered a dislocated ankle against Penn State Oct. 20. Now he’s back on the field for spring drills, working to become a mainstay in the Hawkeyes’ offensive line.

“He’s responding just the way you would expect him to respond,” said Brian Ferentz, Iowa’s offensive line coach. “He’s done a very nice job of coming back from that but has a very, very long way to go as a football player from a consistency standpoint, and doing the things on every play that the team needs out of him. So far, he’s making progress.”

After watching an Iowa practice on April 11, former coach and current Big Ten Network football analyst Gerry DiNardo said that Scherff had a chance to be one of the best, if not the best, offensive lineman in the league.

“I think a big part of playing offensive line is body position, and keeping your balance,” DiNardo said. “Sometimes you have to press forward, sometimes you have to lean back. One of the hardest things to do is always to keep your balance. And he does that. He’s always in the right position as it relates to the defender and the ball. And he’s really a good athlete.”

High praise. Praise that Scherff deflects.

“We’re just going to put the five best guys out there,” Scherff said. “And whoever he puts out there, we’re going to work to be the best unit we can. And that’s our goal.”

Scherff returns with a stronger upper body strength after working with strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

“It’s a tough, physical workout,” Scherff said. “He pushes us. When I got hurt, he put me on an upper body plan. He got me on track. And I’m ready to rock and roll.”

Scherff said the additional strength upstairs will help him get leverage on defenders, and give him separation while he’s pass blocking.

“I’m just a smarter player,” Scherff said. “I’m trying to be a better technician. I’m working on getting my steps right, and being physical.”

Scherff got his first game action at left guard as a redshirt freshman.

“He did some good things out there,” Kirk Ferentz said. “But he struggled at times.”

Scherff was moved to left tackle before the 2012 season, a position that now feels like home.

“Last year he was really coming on before he got hurt,” Kirk Ferentz said. “The injury was a setback, certainly. Any time you miss time, that always sets you back. But he trained hard, and just continues to grow and improve physically. That work is really helpful to him. I don’t think we have anyone who works harder or is any tougher.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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