No. 17 -- DL Steve Bigach
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN STEVE BIGACH
Bigach picked Iowa knowing it was going to be a tough run to interior D-linemen in the Big Ten. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has said Iowa doesn't get many of the ready-made D-linemen while recruiting, so Iowa identifies quickness/speed, brains and toughness. Bigach has joked that he's lost a step or two -- that will happen when you gain roughly 60 pounds in five years -- but he comes up big in the other two.
When Bigach picked Iowa (his initial offer was a grayshirt), his other finalists were Yale and Air Force. He was a 4.0 student and visited Iowa's academic facilities before setting foot in Kinnick Stadium.
And yet, according to a former player's Twitter account, Bigach was a target of derision from former D-line coach Rick Kaczenski, who took the same position at Nebraska in December.
Every coach has a different style. That's part of the reason why Reese Morgan moved from O-line to Iowa's defensive line in February. A player like Bigach could benefit from a different round of "motivational" techniques.
2012 Takeoff: It's safe to say Bigach is a swing man going into his final season. When spring practice started, he was listed as a No. 1 defensive tackle. At the end, he was back outside at end and sophomore Louis Trinca-Pasat was inside.
Bigach, who started five games last season, prefers . . . to play wherever the coaches tell him to play.
"Both positions are a little bit different," Bigach said. "Defensive end, you're a little more out there and maybe not in the mix of it as much as the defensive tackle. At tackle, you can just go. See ball, hit ball. Defensive end is a little more disciplined.
"I like both sides of it. I like being outside and maybe not having six pairs of hands on you at the same time. At tackle, I like the ability to just go. I love to chase the ball, that's football to me."
First-year D-line coach Reese Morgan is counting on Bigach for something. He probably won't put up monster numbers, but if Bigach could occupy space on the inside and slug it out two-gap with an offensive lineman, that would be something.
He is a fifth-year senior, so he should have the requisite body and weightroom time to wrestle with big O-linemen.
"Steve Bigach, leader of the group, Steve has been on the field and played," Morgan said. "He’s respected by the players because of his knowledge and because he’s such a hard worker. He cares about the other guys. He’s trying to help them out a little bit."
Now, is Bigach headed to DE or DT? That likely depends on the health of end Dominic Alvis.
Of course, we'll get to Alvis in this countdown. Quick refresher: Alvis claimed a starting end spot three games into 2011 and started six games before suffering a torn ACL against Michigan.
Alvis has said he'd be 100 percent by June. Bigach said Alvis is full go and going through summer conditioning. Asked if Alvis' health would affect where he ends up, Bigach said, "We'll see."
"I don't think we're going to play just four guys, just throw them out there and say, hey, go play," Bigach said. "I think it's going to be a group effort and we're going to put together a good unit."
When Alvis is 100 percent ready for contact, Bigach likely will move inside and create a three-man rotation with freshman Darian Cooper and Trinca-Pasat. Or, Bigach proves to be a better DE than senior Joe Gaglione and he moves inside.Lots to figure out with this group.