Posted by: marcmwm | July 19, 2009

Hall of Ferentz — Safety

Michigan runningback Chris Perry (23) is sent airborne after collididing with Iowa's Bob Sanders (33) during the first quarter of the game on Saturday October 4, 2003 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Cliff Jette/Gazette)

Michigan runningback Chris Perry (23) is sent airborne after collididing with Iowa's Bob Sanders (33) during the first quarter of the game on Saturday October 4, 2003 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Cliff Jette/Gazette)

 1) Bob Sanders (2000-03)

 Sanders is arguably the most important player in the Ferentz era. When he arrived and did his thing, Kirk Ferentz had someone he could point to and say, “Do that. Be like Bob.” Of course, Ferentz knew what he was getting. Iowa beat out Ohio University on the recommendation of Joe Moore, Ferentz’s mentor.

Moore, who passed away in 2003, sure knew what he was talking about.

Here’s a story from just before the 2004 NFL draft.

CEDAR RAPIDS — The old-school San Diego Padres jersey said hip-hop. But lunch said college kid in Iowa, a cheesy Maid-Rite with plenty of ketchup.

Bob Sanders is caught between two worlds.

The former all-Big Ten safety for the Iowa Hawkeyes is still in Iowa. He’s working out at the Iowa football complex with fellow NFL-draft eligibles Fred Russell and Chris Smith.

He’s also some three weeks from the NFL draft, the new world for the 5-foot-9, 209-pounder.

“The weirdest thing that I’ve noticed is that it’s not a game anymore, it’s a business,” Sanders said Wednesday. “It’s a job. This is how I’m going to be putting food on my family’s table. I’m going to be making a living and it’s going to be my everyday job.

“I’m excited. I’m blessed to be able to do something I enjoy each and every day.

“You’re now playing with guys who are in their 30s, who have children and wives and families. You’ve got to go into it and you’ve got to be a man. You’ve got to be able to tend to your business.”

Wednesday, Sanders ate lunch at Maid-Rite West in Cedar Rapids, the backdrop for a photo shoot with ESPN The Magazine.

He chowed food – he’s up to 209 pounds, 13 more than he played at last fall, but it’s good weight, 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash weight – and
asked, “Hat or no hat?”

Let’s touch on some of the hard NFL-draft stuff.

Sanders has an agent, Cleveland-based Neil Cornrich, who also lists Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz as a client. Sanders wowed the NFL combine poke-and-prod squad with a 4.36 40, 15 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press and an otherworldly 41-inch vertical leap, the highest at the combine.

“Whatever you do in life, you probably won’t experience something like that,” Sanders said. “It’s basically a place where everybody in the world who could hire you for that one job you’ve always wanted is in that one place.”

During January’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Sanders eased some scouts’ worries by flashing cover skills that he wasn’t asked to show at Iowa.

“I was a run-stopper,” said Sanders, who was a second-team all-American and first-team all-Big Ten pick last season. “I played a lot better closer to the line, I enjoyed the physical part of the game, sort of like a linebacker.”

But he knew after his sophomore year that he would have to develop cover skills, one-on-one, the complete package.

“When you get to this point, they want to see you do it all,” said Sanders, referring to NFL scouts and coaches. “They want to see that you can make it look easy.

“They didn’t see that on film (at Iowa). But I think I answered that at the Senior Bowl. They saw I could play the deep middle and play off the hashes. I was starting on the first day, but I got hurt (foot, it’s OK now, though). And down at the combine, I showed I can jump and run fast.”

Between now and the April 24-25 draft, Sanders will go through a series of workouts for teams. He did one for the New York Jets last week in Iowa City.
He’s been told he’s a second- or third-rounder, but has also heard late first, maybe. Of course, he wants to go as high and as quickly as possible in the draft, but he has no expectations.

He doesn’t have a favorite NFL team. He doesn’t have a particular team or city in mind. Today, it’s old-school Padres jersey and funky Chicago Cubs hat.

“I never get nervous about it (the draft),” Sanders said. “I get excited. It’s a long wait, though. There’s another whole month left.

“But it’s like looking at something you’ve wanted your whole life and it’s a month away. It’s exciting for me, my family.”

Sanders will spend draft day with his parents, Jean and Marion, back in Erie, Pa. Sanders, a three-time first-team all-Big Ten pick, has resisted the
temptation to go out and spend his signing bonus, which will run into seven digits. Former Iowa offensive lineman Eric Steinbach received a $1.8 million
signing bonus as a second-rounder last season.

“I want to wait until I get my own, I don’t want to have to take any loans and have to owe anybody,” Sanders said. “I haven’t gotten anything yet. You’ve got to be smart. You don’t have it yet, so it’s not yours. You know you’re going to be paid in a few months, you’ve just got to be smart about it.”

You can’t argue with Sanders’ logic. And you can’t argue with his future.

For the record, he didn’t take classes this semester at Iowa. He talked with Ferentz and they decided that he could come back and finish his degree, on
scholarship, after setting up in the NFL.

The course is set for the NFL Bob.

Now, the question is hat or no hat.

_____________

Sanders is going into his sixth season with the Indianapolis Colts. He was a Pro Bowler in 2005 and was named the AP defensive player of the year in ’07. He had 348 career tackles at Iowa and seven career interceptions. In 2007, Sanders signed a five-year contract worth $37.5 million, making him the highest-paid safety at the time.

2) Sean Considine (2001-04)

 Considine went from walk-on to NFL draft pick. This winter, he signed a two-year, $3 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Here’s an excerpt from a story on those very thoughts from 2005:

IOWA CITY – When they leave for Philadelphia, Oakland and Washington, they won’t need to make room in their suitcases for the chips on their shoulders.

They’ll probably wear them on the plane.

Former Iowa walk-ons Sean Considine, Pete McMahon and Tyler Luebke will head to their respective NFL cities knowing they have to prove themselves all over again.

“When I look back on it now, I think one of the best things that happened to me was having to walk on,” said Considine, a safety who was drafted in the fourth round Sunday by the Philadelphia Eagles. “I came here with a huge chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove a lot of people wrong and I think it really carried me through the first couple years.

“I think I outworked a lot of people and moved up the depth chart faster than I thought I would’ve because I was out there trying to prove people wrong.”

Iowa has had at least one player taken in the last 28 drafts. The last year an Iowa player wasn’t drafted was 1977.

During Kirk Ferentz’s six seasons as head coach, Iowa has put 21 players in the draft. Over the last four years, 18 Hawkeyes have been drafted, the second most in the Big Ten behind Ohio State’s 30.

Five of the 15 Hawkeyes drafted in the last three years began their careers at Iowa as walk-ons. Considine and McMahon, who went to Oakland in the sixth round, followed former Iowa walk-ons Dallas Clark (Colts), Bruce Nelson (Panthers) and Derek Pagel (Jets).

Now, this says a couple things about the Iowa program.

First, Iowa coaches have an eye for the 40 or so players who walk on. And when they spot talent, they develop talent.

Coming out of Byron (Ill.) High School, Considine’s best option for a college scholarship was baseball at Northern Illinois. McMahon caught coaches’ attention only after his brother made and shipped out a highlight tape. Luebke was thinking Southwest Missouri State after transferring from Ellsworth Community College and Kirkwood Community College.

____

Walk-ons come to Iowa with climb in front of them. And right now, the program is rich with success stories, from players who earn scholarships, spots on special teams, spots in the starting lineup or a spot in the NFL draft.

“I think the credit, like all of it here, goes to our players because these guys have all come in with a dream and all that, but they’ve been willing to work toward that dream,” Ferentz said. “They’ve really paid a price.”

_____________

Considine will begin his fifth year in the NFL this season. He should go down as one of the top specials teams players in Iowa history, with five blocked kicks. He ended his career with 157 tackles and six interceptions. He has two NFL interceptions. 

3) Matt Bowen (1997-99)

 Here’s a story Gazette columnist Mike Hlas did around this year’s Super Bowl.

Here’s a snippet from a Hlas column on Bowen in 1998:

We in the media shouldn’t be cheerleaders for the teams and people we cover, but I admit to having a favorite Iowa football player.

He is junior safety Matt Bowen. He had a strong game against Central Michigan last Saturday with four tackles and his third career interception, but he could be Benchwarmer Bowen for all I care.

Bowen is my guy because he wants to someday try to make a living as a sports columnist!

His writing career is under way. He pounds out a column for his school’s student newspaper, The Daily Iowan, each Tuesday during football season. It’s a look at what it’s like to be on a major-college football team.

It isn’t no-holds-barred by any means, because Bowen is a bright young man. A quick way to the sidelines is to show up your coaches. A quick way to the hospital is to embarrass teammates.

Yet, Bowen didn’t try to sugarcoat what happened to the Hawks last season in his column in the Sept. 1 DI.

“Everyone thought we were ‘the team’ in the Big Ten going into the season,” he wrote. “I don’t see how anyone would doubt that statement, considering the talent stockpile we possessed.

“With names like Tim Dwight, Kerry Cooks and Tavian Banks … we were expected to produce big things.

“To make a long story short, our season last year did not go as planned and it disappointed us, as well as our fans.”

However, Bowen was nothing but optimistic about this season.

“I’m as confident as I’ve ever been,” he said in a recent interview, when he was the subject instead of the scribe. “It’s a new slate. Last year is last year,
it’s gone. We’re ready to play.”

____________

Bowen had 222 tackles at Iowa. He played seven years in the NFL and is now a writer for the National Football Post

Honorable mention: (tie) Derek Pagel (1999-02) and Marcus Paschal (2003-06).  Pagel had 154 tackles, five interceptions and 14 pass break-ups in his career at Iowa. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the New York Jets in the 2003 draft. An injury shortened his NFL career. Paschal had 199 tackles, three interceptions and 17 pass break-ups. He was on the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007 and signed and cut by the Falcons this year.

 

Indiana's Levron Williams (5) loses his helmet as he is tackled by Iowa's Bob Sanders during a second-quarter run Saturday, Oct. 20, 2001, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Indiana's Levron Williams (5) loses his helmet as he is tackled by Iowa's Bob Sanders during a second-quarter run Saturday, Oct. 20, 2001, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Responses

  1. Same as my list. =) But I couldn’t decide who I would put higher between Cos and Bowen. Like them both. Bowen could hit for an ex QB. Paschal was always underappreciated.

    Look out for Sash for the next 2 years. Hope he can stay healthy then we’ll talk about him along with these names above.

  2. bob sanders…aka the hitman is one of my all-time favorite hawks, along with reggie roby, andre tippett, tim dwight, chuck long, larry station and of course the great one, the cornbelt comet

    living in florida and having to hear about tim teblow 24/7 I tell the gator fans, those guys I listed above, as players AND PEOPLE, would blow away that overexposed blowhard in a second.

  3. oh and add shonn greene to that list! what he did in one year again compared to the overexposed chosen one….thats a real success story

  4. I actually kind of like Tebow. With all the cameras on him, he seems to always make the right move. He’s not asking for all this hype.

    It’ll be interesting to watch him this year. Can he do it again, with the pros certainly watching?

    I do like that list, jone. I would definitely add Cal Jones and might add Robert Gallery.

  5. nothing against tebow…its the hype (although I do not think is the best thing since sliced cheese). I live in jax beach therefore its all I hear it all year round for the last 5 years including before he even became a gator. the thing is about florida fans is while they are rabid fans they are clueless among the rest of the college world. and I could tell you whats happening everywhere in college football because Im not that ignorant to think my team is the only team on the planet. plus Im a hawkeye fan and a college football fan!

    also when they lose they pretend they never played. i guess that bothers me more than anything. if they win..they are cocky gloating, if they lose …what game. its amazing. they pull it every single time they lose. while us hawk fans as well as other teams spend hours telling fellow fans what went wrong(pretending we are the coach), they just pretend no game was played. nobody did anything wrong…what game

    I love your hall of ferentz mark! its awesome and very well done! the pics are amazing and I love what you add with them

  6. Bob was as responsible as anyone, yes, anyone, for the 31-7 record from 02-04 and he was the reason Iowa became known as the bullies of the Big Ten.

    Think about he and Dallas. Those two made a huge difference in IC and no way does Dungy have a ring wthout BOTH of them. After Manning they are arguably the two most important cogs in that machine.

  7. good god I forgot to put dallas clark on my list of all time favorites. being an original colts fan, and Im talking baltimore…peyton manning AND bob and dallas got them a ring. you are so right on that EP!

    the hit bob made on the pats guy before they got the ball back for the winning drive in that game of the century turnaround, without his hit they run the clock out. it was another key 3rd down stop. and dallas clark was hurt at the end of the 06 season. he came back for the playoffs and he was the mvp of the playoffs in my mind. of course none of this could have happened without peyton. but it goes to show you how really unimportant the heisman voting is THESE days. peyton never won a heisman and yet has been one of the best players in the past ten years.

    the heisman the last 20 years has become a huge joke.

    dallas clark was one of maybe two players to ever leave early for the hawkeyes. somebody needs to do research on that. thats how good dallas clark was. I love dallas and you are right, without bob and dallas, we might be like illinois. one good season and the rest…blech

  8. Jone — Thanks for the kind words. This started as a vacation project, but I really enjoyed putting it together with the archived stories and photos.

    Dallas and Shonn Greene left early, but they were “older” players. Both would’ve been knocking on or already at 24 if they would’ve stayed.


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