By Chris Emma-
CHICAGO (CBS) — Just a few short months from now, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz’s phone will be ringing off the hook. NFL executives and scouts will want every detail on monstrous offensive tackle Brandon Scherff.
The latest in a line of top tackles for the Hawkeyes, Scherff may be the best of the bunch. He’s projected as a top-five pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. When Ferentz’s phone rings, he won’t need to say much.
“Just watch the film,” Ferentz said from Tuesday’s Big Ten media days, detailing his pitch to the pros.
Scherff isn’t flying under the radar. A viral video showed the 315-pound tackle cleaning 443 pounds three times, a freakish display in the weight room.
None of this comes as a surprise to his Hawkeye teammates. Scherff’s dominance is a common occurrence, both on the field and in the weight room.
“You don’t throw weight around like that by accident,” Ferentz said. “He works extremely hard, and that is illustrative of the way he does everything.”
Added Iowa running back Mark Weisman: “He always kills it.”
Preseason projections and mock drafts haven’t gotten to Scherff’s head one bit. He’s the same guy — humble and quiet, as Weisman described. The individual success seems to make him uncomfortable, as he quickly turns the attention to his teammates.
Physical strength is what defines Scherff, but he’s just as strong mentally.
“I’m just trying to be the best player I can be,” Scherff said.
Personal success is sure to follow Scherff. Should he meet expectations for his senior season, an Outland Trophy could be in order. Then comes the NFL Draft, where he’ll likely follow in the footsteps of Hawkeye tackles like Robert Gallery, Riley Reiff and Bryan Bulaga, who have all been first-round picks.
None of that matters to Scherff right now.
“He’s a guy that has a great attitude,” Ferentz said. “He realizes he can get better. He’s already pretty good, but you would never know that by the way he acts or trains.”
So where is Scherff’s focus? Getting better, first with freakish reps in the weight room, then with obliteration of the opposition on Saturdays.
“That’s always your goal, is to move somebody against their will,” Scherff said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
The film will do all the talking.
Purdue’s Mostert the fastest man in college football?
It was just an ordinary play in practice, but Sean Robinson won’t forget it.
Purdue’s offense was running a simple swing route, and Robinson was working at outside linebacker. The ball was pitched to running back Raheem Mostert, and he was ready to wreak havoc. Mostert turned up the jets and blew by the defenders, faster than anybody on the practice field in West Lafayette.
Surely, it’s not a stretch to say Mostert is faster than most on any other field. The Boilermakers’ senior running back is a track star at Purdue, too, and a Big Ten champion in the 100 meters and 200.
“I’d put him up against anybody in a straight line on a football field or the track,” Robinson said.
In Mostert, the Boilermakers have one of college football’s best-kept secrets. Midway through the 2013 campaign, coach Darrell Hazell moved Mostert out of a seldom-used receiver role and placed him in at running back. He made little impact last season, rushing just 11 times for 37 yards.
When track season came around, Mostert blew by the Big Ten competition, winning a combined four individual Big Ten titles in indoors and outdoors and then qualifying for the NCAA Championships. It offered evidence to something Mostert always believed to be true.
“I’ve always thought I was one of the fastest guys around,” Mostert said. “I had to do something for that title to exist.”
Now the title is a bit more real — Mostert may be college football’s fastest man.
Mostert’s success on the track translates to the football field, where he hopes to become a weapon in Purdue’s offense. After a 1-11 struggle of a season in West Lafayette, his contributions will be welcomed to the field.
“He can be really, really special,” Robinson said. “The tools are there. It’s about all 11 guys to buy in for the success of him and the rest of the team.”
Added Hazell: “It makes coaches’ jobs a lot easier.”
A two-sport star is rare at any level, but Mostert is making it work in college. He’s flying by the competition on both the field and the track.
“Playing two sports is kind of hard,” he said. “I made it look so easy because of my success on the track, and then what I’m going to do on the football season.”
Fitzgerald offers solution to recruiting flip-flops
The recruiting game has sped out of control, something that college coaches have touted as a problem. Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald offered his form of a solution.
Prospects flip-flopping schools is nothing new in recruiting, where a kid can make a verbal commitment, then break it before signing a national letter of intent. Fitzgerald’s system would entail a 48-hour window to accept a scholarship offer and officially sign to a school.
“If you make a commitment, we’re engaged,” Fitzgerald said. “If you break the engagement in the marriage world, there’s no more getting married.”
The rant from Fitzgerald came less than 24 hours after two of Northwestern’s prized commits, four-star prospects Andrew and David Dowell, each decided to pursue other options. Sticking to a program policy, Fitzgerald forced a decommitment from the twins.
“If we offer you a scholarship, we want you,” Fitzgerald said, speaking generally. “I don’t want to coach guys that don’t want to be at Northwestern. If you’re going to go date somebody else, then we’re no longer, I don’t care who you are.”
No changes appear to be in sight for recruiting regulations, so the flip-flopping will only continue.
“Our fans better get ready for more decommitments,” Fitzgerald said. “And I don’t care. Our players don’t want those kind of guys on our team.”
Chris Emma covers the college sports scene for CBS Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.