116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
THE DEPTH CHART
1. Brandon Scherff, sr., 6-5, 320; 2. Ike Boettger, fr., 6-6, 267
1. Sean Welsh, fr., 6-3, 285; 2. Boone Myers, fr., 6-5, 285
1. Austin Blythe, jr., 6-3, 290; 2. Tommy Gaul, sr., 6-3, 280 OR Eric Simmons, jr., 6-2, 295
1. Jordan Walsh, jr., 6-4, 290; 2. Mitch Keppy, so., 6-5, 298
1. Andrew Donnal, sr., 6-7, 305; 2. Cole Croston, so., 6-5, 270 OR Ryan Ward, so., 6-5, 290
Jalen Chambers, so., 6-5, 290; Steve Ferentz, so., 6-2, 267; Dalton Ferguson, fr., 6-4, 315; Colin Goebel, fr., 6-5, 280; Lucas LeGrand, fr., 6-5, 260; Keegan Render, fr., 6-4, 315; Ross Reynolds, fr., 6-4, 275; Reid Selby, so., 6-4, 290
Senior tackle Brandon Scherff has turned into a Paul Bunyan-type figure with his jaw-dropping hang cleans. But it's his on-field video that stuns his opponents and dazzles his teammates.
Coaches voted Scherff a first-team all-Big Ten member last year and his play was dominant. He's as physical of a run blocker as there is college football and nimble-footed enough to corral most of the nation's best pass rushers.
'I thought he was one of the better players you could find in college football a year ago,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. 'We expect him to be a better player this year, and I think he expects that from himself. That's more important. He's already awfully good, but I think he's got a chance to be one of the best players to ever play here.”
Other than Scherff's physical skills, Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz suggested there's one major separation between Scherff and other top-flight offensive lineman - his dedication and work ethic.
'For me to sit up there and pretend that I've coached him to do anything or any of us have coached him to do anything, that's kind of silly,” Brian Ferentz said. 'With all due respect to my wife, I think Brandon would be the same player if she was coaching him.
'A lot of it is just physical and what he was born with and what he's been blessed with. But the other part it is that he's embraced the work that it takes in the weight room, on the practice fields on a daily basis that nobody sees.”
NFL scouts have mentioned Scherff as a potential No. 1 overall pick in next spring's draft. The only time Iowa boasted the draft's top pick was in 1959, when the Green Bay Packers selected quarterback Randy Duncan. Iowa has produced six first-round picks under Ferentz, including three offensive tackles.
THE OTHER GUY(S)
Junior center Austin Blythe arrived in Iowa three years ago as a semi-local legend. He was a three-time champ and a four-time wrestling state finalist at nearby Williamsburg and collected the state record for most pins with 143. Blythe chose football over wrestling and started nine games at guard in an injury-plagued freshman season. Last year, he slid over to center and started all 13 games. He improved dramatically and was named honorable mention all-Big Ten. Since his wrestling days, Blythe has bulked up to 290 pounds but has retained his quickness and feistiness. He is articulate, competitive and bristles at any notion that the offensive lineman's job isn't to dominant his opponent.
'I think Coach Brian (Ferentz) would be mad at the word stalemate,” Blythe said.
Joining Blythe as a veteran is right guard Jordan Walsh, who opened all 13 games last year at that position.
THE NEW GUYS
Freshman tackle Ike Boettger (6-6, 267) follows Scherff's career path almost on a straight line. At Cedar Falls High School, Boettger played quarterback as a junior, tight end as a senior and moved to offensive line in his red-shirt season at Iowa, just like Scherff. Boettger moved to second-team left tackle before training camp and appears to have the inside track to replace Scherff next year.
'The way he's climbed up the depth chart the way he has is a testament to how he's taken to the position and embrace what we do up front and how we do it,” Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz said. 'In some ways it's almost nice to work with a guy who doesn't have any prior experience because he has no concept of how to play the position. In some ways he's the perfect student and he'll do whatever you tell him to do. It's kind of nice as a coach.”
Freshman guard Sean Welsh (6-3, 285) has moved into the starting lineup as its youngest member. The Springboro, Ohio native is listed as starting left guard but coaches say he's clearly the fifth-best lineman right now. Welsh is taking that seriously entering fall camp.
'I didn't want to get too excited because it's an every-day process here,” Welsh said. 'You're judged on your actions every day, whether you perform every day. I let my mom know, but the important thing to remember is to not get too overzealous and just approach every day the same way. They always say the depth chart is fluid and changes can be made. You've just got to keep the mind-set that things can always change.”
Iowa plucked three in-state offensive lineman in its most recent recruiting class in Lucas LeGrand (Dubuque Senior), Keegan Render (Indianola) and Ross Reynolds (Waukee).
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