Iowa Football

Former Iowa linebacker A.J. Edds carves niche with Big Ten

Edds is transitioning to work with conference wrestling programs

Former Iowa linebacker and current assistant director of sports administration for the Big Ten A.J. Edds looks on from the head table, during action of the Big Ten Conference Wrestling Championships on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at Michigan State’s Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. Edds is transitioning to work with the conference wrestling programs. (Photo by K.J. Pilcher/The Gazette)
Former Iowa linebacker and current assistant director of sports administration for the Big Ten A.J. Edds looks on from the head table, during action of the Big Ten Conference Wrestling Championships on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at Michigan State’s Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. Edds is transitioning to work with the conference wrestling programs. (Photo by K.J. Pilcher/The Gazette)

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A.J. Edds gained an appreciation for wrestling soon after his arrival to the University of Iowa.

The former all-conference linebacker for the Hawkeyes grew up a basketball player in Indiana, where the sport is ingrained in the culture as wrestling is in Iowa. He attended meets and even associated with wrestlers, including current Hawkeye assistant Ryan Morningstar and NCAA champion Brent Metcalf.

“I’ve definitely was able to take in some wrestling during my time,” Edds said. “Ever since I left Iowa, I’ve been a fan of Big Ten wrestling. It’s going to be fun to work with it in a professional capacity.”

Edds has carved a niche with the Big Ten, serving as an assistant director of sports administration with the conference. He attended the Big Ten Wrestling Championships at Michigan State’s Breslin Center over the weekend, preparing to add wrestling to the list of sports he currently handles.

“It’s not lost on me the importance of wrestling in our conference,” Edds said. “I’m very excited to be able to work with these coaches and administrators and be around the level of competition like this.”

Edds is stationed at the conference’s Rosemont office, working as a liaison with field hockey, women’s swimming and diving, men’s golf and is the director of the conference hockey tournament. As a liaison, he leads the annual coaches meeting and is on site for the year-end championships.

An official doesn’t always get to experience the event in the same way as the average spectator, but it is hard not to get caught up with the action.

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“I’m here in a professional capacity,” Edds said. “I’m not here as a fan, but it’s hard not to be a fan of what is going on in front of you when you have guys of this caliber getting out there and mixing it up. It’s hard not to sit back and enjoy it.”

Big Ten Assistant Commission, Public Affairs Kerry Kenny was helping Edds on the transition that will be finalized in the upcoming calendar year.

“I’m sort of the gatekeeper, so to speak, of information coming in from institutions that sponsor those sports,” Edds said. “I’m also the one disseminating information from the conference, going out to administrators, coaches and operations personnel on campus.”

Edds graduated from Iowa in 2010 with a degree in management and organizations. He was a second-team all-Big Ten performer with academic all-Big ten honors. He played in the NFL from 2010-15, including stops with the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.

He spent a year in the private sector, joining the Big Ten office late last year, jumping at the opportunity. Edds said he likes working at the collegiate level, especially in the Big Ten. He is well aware the prominence that the conference has with the sport on the national and international level.

“There are eyes on this tournament from all over the world because people know how good it is and the quality of competition,” Edds said. “If you come out of this wrestling meet as a champion, there’s a good chance you’re going to compete for the NCAA crown, which means you’re one of the best in the world.”

DUO DEFAULT TO SIXTH

Iowa’s Michael Kemerer defaulted to sixth place. Ohio State’s Micah Jordan upset top-seeded Kemerer in the semifinal Saturday night.

Kemerer (22-1) shared sixth place with Penn State’s second-seeded Jason Nolf, who injury defaulted from the tournament after reaching semifinal.

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Iowa’s Cash Wilcke also defaulted the fifth-place bout at 197, following his consolation semifinal.

“The postseason is not over,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “We look to the most important event and we don’t make a habit out of that, but when it’s best for the individual we’ll do it.”

FOUR-TIME CHAMPION

Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello and Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez became the 15th and 16th wrestlers to win four Big Ten titles.

Tomasello (11-1) claimed the 125-pound title with a 10-7 decision over Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak. Tomasello won the 133-pound title a year ago, after 125 crowns as a freshman and sophomore.

Martinez (14-0) scored a late takedown to ice a 3-1 victory over Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph in the 165-pound final. Martinez avenged a loss to Joseph in last year’s NCAA final. The feat was Martinez was even more rare, becoming the first four-timer to be coached by a four-time Big Ten champion, which was former Hawkeye Jim Heffernan.

Martinez was voted Outstanding Wrestler of the Big Ten Championships.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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