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Archive for June, 2014

Welcome to the weekend

Friday, June 20th, 2014
The late-night streets of Iowa City have not been kind to Iowa football players the past two weekends. As the third weekend of June arrives, Hawkeye players are taking it on themselves to end the recent run-ins with local authorities. "It's up to us as players to make certain that we don't put ourselves in situations that can lead to what has happened the last couple of weeks,'' running back Mark Weisman said. "Call it peer pressure, call it whatever, but we need to be accountable to each other. That's part of being on a team.'' The weekend police blotters have not been kind to Iowa football players so far this month. Defensive back Nico Law was charged with disorderly conduct following a early-morning incident in downtown Iowa City on June 7. Days later, he announced he planned to transfer. Last weekend, defensive tackle Dean Tsopinades was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated shortly before midnight on June 13 near downtown Iowa City. A little over an hour later on the west side of town, receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley was cited for having a disorderly house when police were called in following a complaint of loud music and noise. Incidents with local authorities have been sporadic in recent seasons for Iowa football players and leaders on this season's team are taking a proactive approach to bringing the current streak of issues to an end. "It's our job to stop it before it starts,'' defensive tackle Carl Davis said. "We cannot put ourselves in those situations.'' Toward that objective, leaders on this year's team held a meeting with their teammates this week. One of the things to come out of the meeting was a decision by players to refrain from spending any time in downtown night spots. "If downtown is the area where most of the problems are occurring, there's no reason to go there,'' Weisman said. Davis said Hawkeye seniors are willing to put pressure on themselves and on underclassmen to end the recent issues. "We're here to work and prepare to compete for a championship and you can't do that if you're dealing with distractions,'' Davis said. "If we have to tell each other 'No, we're not going to go there' or 'No, we can't do that,' I feel like it's a small sacrifice to make for the good of the team. We need everyone to buy into that idea.'' Davis believes the message, delivered in a direct approach during their meeting this week, has been received. "It's up to all of us now to hold each other accountable and to remember that what we do impacts not only ourselves, but everybody else on the team,'' Davis said. "We can't let each other down.'' Welcome to the first weekend of what Hawkeye leaders see as the start of a new commitment to each other.

‘A lucky coincidence’

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, Kirk Ferentz had a hometown view of Chuck Noll and the well-oiled ways his Pittsburgh Steelers operated. The Iowa football coach said today that he "idolized'' Noll as a youth, recalling days after the NFL coaching legend's death at the age of 82 just how much influence Noll had in Ferentz wanting to become a coach. "To me, he stands for what is good in coaching,'' Ferentz said. "For me to grow up in that town, that was a lucky coincidence and I've been lucky along the way.'' Ferentz recalled when he was away at college how his father would send him a week's worth of sports sections from the local paper in the mail, allowing him to keep up with Noll and the Steelers. "I read every article. I still have a lot of them right there in my file,'' Ferentz said today. "I've got everything that has been written over the last several days.'' Ferentz credited Noll with a decision he made early in his high school days that he one day wanted to become an educator and coach. He had the chance to learn from Noll in person, attending a 1995 clinic at Robert Morris that included the future NFL hall of fame coach as its featured speaker. Ferentz was working as a Cleveland Browns assistant at the time, but Noll's words left an impression on the future Hawkeye coach. "I got to hear coach Noll talk about the art of hitting for 50 minutes. For me, that was a thrill. Maybe not for anyone else, but for me that was a thrill,'' Ferentz said. "I was just mesmerized that an NFL coach could talk for 50 straight minutes just about technique and fundamentals. If you watched their team play, that was the trademark of their team.''

A fitting finish

Monday, June 16th, 2014
Dallas Clark, whose play at tight end helped elevate the Iowa football program to the Big Ten's elite, will be receiving a fitting finish to his NFL career on Wednesday. The Indianapolis Colts announced today that Clark will sign a contract with the team on Wednesday and then retire, concluding his career as the franchise's career leader among tight ends in receptions and touchdown receptions. Clark suited up for the Colts from 2003-11 after Indianapolis selected the all-Big Ten Hawkeye with the 24th pick in the 2003 NFL draft. He will join Jeff Saturday as the only Indianapolis players to re-sign and then retire as members of the Colts organization. "It's an honor I can't even explain,'' Clark told Colts.com. "It's amazing just the love and support I have for the Colts and fans, but to see it come back toward me (is humbling). "For the Irsay family and Colts family to do this is an honor, something I can't thank anyone for enough. It's so special I can't even express how awesome it is.'' Clark caught 427 passes, including 46 for touchdowns, as he surpassed NFL Hall-of-Famer John Mackey in the Colts record books during his nine-year run in Indianapolis before finishing his career with Tampa Bay and Baltimore the past two seasons. Overall, the product of Twin River Valley High School who grew up on a farm near Livermore, Iowa, caught 505 passes for 5,665 yards and 53 scores while starting 118 of the 143 NFL games he played. Former Colts coach Tony Dungy told Colts.com that Clark was the "last piece of the puzzle'' the organization needed to put itself in a position to win seven division titles, two conference titles and a Super Bowl. As was the case when he left Iowa after winning the Mackey Award as the college game's top tight end following his junior season in 2002, Clark told the Colts website that he felt the timing was right to call it a career. He said he always wanted to walk away healthy instead of being forced out for not being able to perform. "That's the case now and I'm good with that,'' Clark said. "I got to the point where I could do it for a couple more years, but I need to walk away.'' Clark walked away from the Iowa program after catching 43 passes for 742 yards and four scores in 2002, helping the Hawkeyes to an unbeaten Big Ten season which ended with a loss to Southern California in the Orange Bowl. Then a fourth-year junior, Clark knew it was time to challenge himself at the next level. Now, he'll challenge himself with enjoying time with his wife and the couple's two children, ages 3 and 5. Not surprisingly, Clark's timing remains impeccable.

On the move

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
Iowa quarterback recruit Jack Beneventi is on the move. One of three quarterbacks among the eight players the Hawkeyes have received verbal commitments from as part of the 2015 recruiting class, Beneventi is leaving the Lisle Benet program he has quarterbacked the past two seasons for Oak Park Fenwick. The 6-foot-6 Beneventi reached that decision last week after visiting the Chicago Catholic League school and talking with its coach, Gene Nudo. Nudo told both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times that things fell into place quickly after Beneventi visited the school last Thursday. "It all happened very fast,'' Nudo told the Sun-Times. The 6-foot-6 Beneventi is one of two transfer quarterbacks who will vye for an opening starting position at Fenwick, which finished 10-3 last season and won the Chicago Catholic League White championship before falling by a point to Wheaton North in the Illinois 7A playoffs. Gavin Graves, a 6-0 junior who started at Mundelein the past two seasons has also announced plans to transfer to Fenwick. The two quarterbacks have differing styles and with Illinois prep coaches allowed 20 contact days with their players during the summer months, Nudo has some time to figure out which one better suits Fenwick's returning personnel. "We're losing some pieces on offense, and hopefully (Beneventi) can be one of the people who can come in and fill the holes,'' Nudo told the Tribune. Beneventi quarterbacked Lisle Benet to a Class 7A playoff berth as well last season after leading the program to the state semifinals as a sophomore. Nudo likes Beneventi's size, saying the few tapes he has watched of Beneventi have shown him that he sees the field well and has a strong arm. "We're in a unique situation,'' Nudo told the Sun-Times.