Iowa Football

Iowa football notes: Jack Koerner discusses watercraft accident that led to friend's leg amputation

Alaric Jackson goes vegan, transfer Coy Cronk making impression

Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters (18) is sacked by Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Jack Koerner (28) in
Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters (18) is sacked by Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Jack Koerner (28) in the second quarter at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Illinois Fighting Illini at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — He won’t publicly discuss specifics of what happened. You can’t blame him for that.

Jack Koerner was involved in a watercraft accident in June at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri that injured himself and a friend. The University of Iowa safety did talk some about the incident with reporters Wednesday as part of Hawkeye football’s virtual media days on Zoom.

He talked a lot more about the toughness of his good friend. Cole Coffin had a leg amputated after the accident, in which the jet ski Koerner and Coffin were riding on collided with a boat.

Both men were knocked unconscious and suffered cuts from the boat’s propellor, their lives saved when people on another nearby boat witnessed the accident and came to their rescue.

“Pretty much it was just a freaky accident, and I was lucky enough not to sustain any life-altering injuries,” Koerner said. “My friend, Cole, unfortunately, did sustain that leg injury and amputation. He’s back at Iowa now, going through physical therapy. He’s got a new prostethic, and he’s doing really well with that.

“He is somebody that has shown a lot of grit and a lot of strength that a lot of people faced with similar circumstances I don’t know if they would be able to. You’ve got to applaud him, because I don’t know if anybody could handle it better than he has.”

Koerner and Coffin were football teammates at West Des Moines Dowling High School.

“I’ve been able to see him quite a few times since that accident,” Koerner said. “He’s same old Cole, just a pleasure to be around. He’s not feeling sorry for himself, he doesn’t want anybody to feel sorry for him. It’s just something that has changed in his life, and he has attacked it as well as anybody could. I’m super proud of him, and proud to call him my friend.”

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Koerner is practicing and scheduled to be Iowa’s starting free safety. He was second on the team last season with 81 tackles.

“This fight that I’ve been given has changed my outlook on life,” Coffin said on Twitter. “It has made me grateful for all I’m given. I urge you all to step out of your comfort zone, and say I love you to those that mean a lot to you. Life is not guaranteed, but let’s make the most of it while we’re here.”

Alaric Jackson goes vegan

It’s very difficult to know for sure when you are looking at someone on a Zoom chat instead of in person, but Alaric Jackson appeared noticeably different from a body standpoint.

 
 

“I’m still 320 pounds. Nothing’s changed,” the senior tackle insisted. “I just lost some body fat. Just looking forward to the season.”

After further prodding from reporters, Jackson acknowledged he has become a vegan. Not many offensive linemen out there who do that.

“Just a different lifestyle, for the most part,” said the Detroit native.

Jackson said he had a talk with interim strength and conditioning coach Raimond Braithwaite about becoming a vegan and made the decision to follow through with it. The 6-foot-6 tackle is pretty soft spoken anyway, and didn’t seem to want to make much of a deal about it.

“Nothing really crazy. It’s just that I think it’s better to have this lifestyle football wise. That’s all,” he said. “To each his own, for the most part. I don’t think it’s unusual or anything. I’m just eating (other) food instead of eating meat.”

Djimon Colbert’s decision

Iowa announced Monday that Djimon Colbert and Taajhir McCall have opted out of the 2020 season because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

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McCall is a redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Florida still looking for his first playing time. Colbert started all 13 games last season for the Hawkeyes at weakside linebacker and is a significant loss.

Running back Ivory Kelly-Martin is a close friend of Colbert and said he and everyone else on the team respect his decision.

“We all have personal stuff going on in our lives,” Kelly-Martin said. “I know he has good reason for his decision that he made. We always say we are going to support (guys). Support them and respect their decisions. He made his decision for his reason, and that’s not anything for me to talk on.”

“It’s not for me to speak on,” said Iowa linebacker Barrington Wade. “He was an important part, but, for us, it’s always next man in.”

Personal responsibility

If you aren’t aware of the protocols, the entire Iowa team, coaching and support staffs are being tested daily for COVID-19. That’s why the Big Ten Conference did its about face and decided to conduct a season.

Let linebacker Nick Niemann give you the testing specifics.

“Originally it was just once or twice a week with the brain tickler,” Niemann said. “Now we go once every day sometime in the afternoon, depending on your schedule. You just have the nasal swab, not as deep. And then you can get randomly selected to do the one that nobody really likes. We do that every day. It’s just something we’ve got to do, along with everyone.”

Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette was asked if, as a senior, he harps on his teammates to make sure they aren’t taking any unnecessary risks that might jeopardize games for the team.

“It’s not just me trying to hold everybody accountable. There are 120 guys out there every day, and they’ve got to think about team first, too,” he said. “It’s to the point where we need to know we’ve got to stick together. Be smart after games, don’t take the chance of going down and taking somebody with you. It’s not just about me, it’s about a team full of grown men. You’ve just got to carry yourself accordingly.”

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Coy Cronk making impression

Two-deep rosters haven’t been made available, yet, but you’d have to think Coy Cronk will be a starting tackle opposite Jackson, if he’s healthy.

Cronk is a graduate transfer from Indiana, who received a redshirt last season after starting the Hoosiers’ first four games. He has 40 Big Ten starts under his belt and has made an impression on his new teammates.

“I’m fortunate enough to play by guys who have a lot of experience,” said center Tyler Linderbaum. “Coy coming over from Indiana has played 40 games in his career, which is something special. We’ve got a good core of o-linemen who are working hard and pushing each other to be better.

“Coy has done a great job, fits in perfect with the guys. He’s a great guy to be around. He’s getting better each and every day. He kind of has the mentality of never arrived. He’s played 40 games, but you could never tell he has played that many games just by his attitude, trying to get better each and every day.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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