The pieces kind of fell right into place here.
You might be surprised to know that Scott Chandler is the second-leading TE statistically in Iowa history. He’s behind Marv Cook and his 126 receptions and 1,825 yards.
This is another chance for me to rerun a little bit of the story from the day that Dallas Clark announced his decision to go pro. If I ever write a book, Dallas Clark is a chapter or two.
1) Dallas Clark (2001-02)
“Dallas Clark arrived at Iowa with a broken collarbone, a murky promise of a spot as a walk-on and darned near no money.
He leaves as one of Iowa’s all-time best tight ends and, if he cleans up well for NFL scouts, a wealthy young man.
Clark, everyone’s all-American this season, announced Wednesday he will skip his senior season and enter April’s NFL draft.
“Before I even decided, whatever decision I made it was going to be 100 percent, never looking back,” Clark said. “I’m not going to live in the world of ‘what ifs, what ifs.’ If I get drafted in the fifth round or if I got hurt, this is my life and I’m going to live with the rewards and consequences. I feel great about this opportunity and my decision.”
“Clark’s story is nothing short of incredible. He began his Iowa football life in 1998 as a part-time student with a broken collarbone. Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry promised Clark a chance to make the team and came through on the promise.
“We’ve got to put Hayden in there, because it was Hayden who gave him a chance,” said Doug Clark, Dallas’ dad.
Clark became a full-time student and a full-fledged team member in January ’99. But two days before the season opener against Nebraska – Ferentz’s first game as head coach – Clark had an emergency appendectomy.
The first two semesters in ’98 were particularly difficult.
His mom, Jan, died two days before he graduated from Twin Rivers High School. With two sons finishing college, Doug Clark had a tough time helping his youngest son make ends meet.
“Maybe we didn’t have the greatest stuff, but we enjoyed what we had and it worked,” Doug Clark said. “But I do know that any kid in America who says he can’t support college, I can testify he can.”
Dallas Clark basically lived on his own that first year.
“It was really hard,” said Clark, who has some $15,000 in student loans. “I just didn’t feel like a college freshman, because I had so many responsibilities.
“I was by myself, so I had to handle that. I had to grow up. I didn’t get to enjoy the finer things at college. But to play even just one game at Kinnick Stadium, it was all worth it.”
Before being awarded a full scholarship in fall ’01, Clark played football, took classes and worked. He held a summer job with UI grounds services, which included mowing Kinnick Stadium.
“I woke up at 6 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” said Clark, who started as an outside linebacker and made a splash on
special teams before moving to tight end in spring 2001. “I mowed Kinnick Stadium and mowed the baseball stadium, both softball fields, both soccer fields. I fixed sprinkler heads. I mowed the complex. That helped me pay the bills.”
He mowed Kinnick, then he owned Kinnick.
Clark finished his Iowa career with 81 catches for 1,281 yards and eight TDs. He won the Mackey Award in 2002. Now, he’s one of the main weapons for Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
2) Scott Chandler (2003-06)
Scott Chandler went from 6-7 oddity at WR to a full-service, three-down TE. He built himself up from a skinny 215-pound wide receiver to a 237-pound TE. He came to Iowa built for jump-ball passes in the end zone and left a fourth-round pick in the NFL draft.
I once asked him about the transition from WR to TE. He had a great reaction.
“You do go from the guy with all the wrist bands on and that stuff to having dirt on your shirt at the end of the game,” the senior said. “You just change your mentality. I feel like it took me awhile, but I feel like I changed it.”
Chandler is the No. 2 TE in Iowa history with 117 receptions for 1,467 yards and 10 TDs. He answered for a few drops in his career, but he overall body of work, and what it took to get there, is admirable.
3) Brandon Myers (2005-08)
Myers was the last recruit in the 2004 class. He was a star basketball player at Prairie City-Monroe. I’m not sure which coach saw it — probably Reese Morgan, who recruits the state of Iowa — but someone saw tight end in the lanky kid.
He caught one pass as a frosh and none as a sophomore. Then, when Tony Moeaki was hurt in 2007, Myers stepped in with 21 receptions. Last season, he earned first-team all-Big Ten from the coaches with 34 catches for 441 yards and four TDs. In the Outback Bowl, Myers had four for 49, including three third-down catches for 38 yards on the game-opening TD drive that set a tone.
Honorable mention: Tony Moeaki. Despite all the games he’s missed, with a good season, Moeaki could crack Iowa’s all-time receiving list. He goes into 2009 with 42 catches for 566 yards and seven TDs. He could have a 500-yard season. Or he could miss a ton of time due to injury — again.