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Time is running out on Ott and the NCAA

Ferentz: Decision on appeal might be 'weeks,' NFL interest is there

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Drew Ott (95) tires to get to Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Wes Lunt (12) but is blocked by offensive lineman Austin Schmidt (57) during the second half of a game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Sunday, October 10, 2015. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Drew Ott (95) tires to get to Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Wes Lunt (12) but is blocked by offensive lineman Austin Schmidt (57) during the second half of a game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Sunday, October 10, 2015. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Drew Ott remains stuck in carbonite, just like Han Solo at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back.” The big difference is no one knows if a sequel is on the way for the Hawkeye hung up in limbo.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz spoke to media Tuesday and offered an Ott update that was nothing new. The defensive end still is waiting for the NCAA to approve his medical hardship waiver for a fifth year of eligibility.

Ferentz did, however, emphasize the fact that time is running out.

Kirk Ferentz interview 2

“The clock is kind of ticking a little bit too because the NFL people are at some point going to make a move, too,” Ferentz said. “I would imagine they’d want to bring him in for physicals and those types of things. . . . If they’re going to ask a guy to join their team, they’re going to want to know where he is physically.

“We’re still probably a couple weeks away, but clock is running right now.

Ott is recovering from knee (ACL) and elbow (ligaments) surgeries. On that front, Ferentz said, “I think he’ll be ready in camp (August), be ready this summer. He’s working at it really hard.”

“I saw him this morning. He’s in training,” Ferentz said. “He’s doing more and more each day. The good news for him, he’s got a good future whichever direction it goes.”

Kirk Ferentz interview 3

Ott began the application process for the medical hardship in late November. On Feb. 29, the Big Ten sent the case to the NCAA. There has been no movement since.

At some point in the coming weeks, Ott’s hand will be forced. The NFL draft begins April 28. With little or no feedback from the NCAA, his immediate football future really is up in the air. Does he bet on the fifth year coming through? Or does he take whatever the NFL has to offer?

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“For him the toughest part is not knowing,” Ferentz said. “It’s like anything in life, if you don’t know where you’re going and what the future is, that’s always a tough thing to deal with.”

Ott has taken advantage of a couple opportunities to test NFL opinions on his skills and physical rehabilitations. The NCAA gave the 6-4, 277-pounder from Trumbull, Neb., a waiver to attend the NFL combine in February. He also had his height and weight checked by NFL scouts Monday during Iowa’s pro day.

Kind of lost in the Ott discussion is the fact he could elect to enter the draft. Scouts from all 32 NFL teams visited Iowa this week. Ferentz took some questions about Ott.

“Several of the guys (scouts) mentioned him yesterday,” Ferentz said. “They’ve got him on their radar certainly. So, the question they have, do we use a draft pick? Do we try to get him as a free agent, that type of thing?

“I think he’s a great investment, a heck of a football player and heck of a leader. If we get him back, that would add current leadership as well as a really good football player, but it could go either way, and we’re going to wish him well no matter what happens here.”

In 19 games the last two seasons, Ott has 19.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Going into the first day of spring practice on Wednesday, sophomores Parker Hesse and Matt Nelson are listed as starters at defensive end. They combined for 7.0 tackles for loss and sacks as redshirt freshmen last season.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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