MARION - For Brad Hopfinger, the goal is singular.
Play good golf this summer, then take a shot at another coveted professional tour.
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Iowa’s football season starts precisely four months from today.
Precisely four months ago today, the Hawkeyes played in the Outback Bowl. Maybe their Sept. 2 game against Wyoming will go better than their Jan. 2 game against Florida.
How could it not? The Gators beat Iowa that day in Tampa, 30-3. What if I’d told you that day that Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard was roughly four more months from being a third-round NFL draft choice?
None of us are psychics. Every time someone gives you any kind of prediction and presents it as a sure thing instead of a guess, laugh at them. Laugh hard enough to make them see the error of their ways. Stop if you sense you might get punched.
Anyway, it’s my job to take these next four months and make that Wyoming-Iowa contest seem like a season-opener worthy of a major television network, if such a thing as a major television network still exists.
OK, that’s not really my job, but I’m going to beat the rest of the Iowa media mopes to the punch, and that’s the second time I’ve used the word “punch” in this essay. Which probably reveals something dark and foreboding, but this is about Wyoming-Iowa, not me.
I used way too many commas in that previous paragraph. It’s time for some restraint.
As for the point of all this ... Wyoming has a junior-to-be quarterback named Josh Allen. According to 2018 NFL mock drafts on Fox Sports.com and CBSsports.com, he is the top 2018 pro prospect who will play on the Kinnick Stadium field this season.
(Yes, 2018 mock drafts. So sue me.)
For all the talk about the wretched nonconference games Iowa schedules, here comes the player CBSsports.com’s Will Brinson predicts will go No. 2 in the ‘18 NFL draft. To the San Francisco 49ers, no less, who just happen to have drafted Beathard in the third round of last week’s 2017 draft.
A reminder: The 2018 NFL draft is over 51 weeks away and projections may change a wee bit in that time.
Fox Sports.com’s Dieter Kurtenbach has Allen going sixth next year, to the Washington Redskins.
The Sporting News’ Eric Galko also has Allen sixth, to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
And another mock draft just came out Tuesday afternoon, this by Chris Burke of SI.com. He, too, has Allen going sixth to Jacksonville.
Wyoming was 8-6 last season, Allen’s first as a starter. The Cowboys were 2-10 in 2015. Their last winning season before that was 2011.
Allen passed for 3,203 yards, with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Despite getting sacked 27 times, he still rushed for 512 rushing yards and seven TDs.
By the way, Wyoming comes to Iowa with a 3-game losing streak. The 69-66, triple-overtime loss at UNLV was a doozy. UNLV had 653 yards.
By the way, Allen’s Twitter handle is @J_Prodigy_5. That suggests a certain amount of self-confidence.
No one from Penn State or Ohio State or anyone else on Iowa’s home schedule has a player ranked higher than Allen on the 2018 mock drafts of Fox or CBS.
The Sporting News’ guy has Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2. He had 211 total yards against Iowa last year in Happy Valley. But things can get a little different in Kinnick, as many a Hawkeye fan is happy to remind Michigan supporters.
Incidentally, it isn’t true Pope Francis asked Jim Harbaugh last week how his team could have a school-record 11 NFL draft picks and still lose at Iowa.
Anyway, Wyoming-Iowa is four months out. For now and the next four months, get ready for Josh Allen, my beautiful babies. The Gunslinger of the Cowboys, from Firebaugh, Calif.
Firebaugh. Ever hear of that place? I had not, and I’d heard of Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocapillo, Barranquilla and Perdilla.
Firebaugh isn’t a posh suburb of Los Angeles or San Francisco or San Diego, where pushy middle-aged men with failed athletic dreams of their own spend gobs of money to turn their sons into quarterbacking machines.
It’s in central California, Fresno County. There’s no glamour there. It’s hot. Agriculture surrounds the town. Alfalfa.
Allen started his collegiate career at Reedley College in Reedley, Calif., also in Fresno County. Ever hear of that town or that junior college? I had not, and I’d heard of Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado, Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, Eldorado, Larimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chatanika, Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika, Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Sioux City, Cedar City and Dodge City.
Allen didn’t start at Reedley until his fifth game and still ended up passing or rushing for 36 touchdowns.
In 2015, Allen started Wyoming’s second game of the season. He threw four passes, then absorbed a hit that broke his collarbone in seven places. He has called his scar “pretty gnarly.”
“They opened me up pretty good.”
Is this too much information four months out?
Well, here’s a little more. The score of Wyoming’s spring game was 3-0. Allen completed just 10 of 26 passes for 127 yards.
That’s all for now. But JoshAllenpalooza will resume here this summer. Maybe I’ll go Firebaugh to capture the spirit of the thing.