IOWA CITY — Iowa left defensive end Broderick Binns and right tackle Markus Zusevics enter their fifth year of locking helmets against one another on a daily basis in practice.
They’ve had the typical training camp scuffles, and they’ve each won their share of one-on-one battles in scrimmages. But the fifth-year seniors also admire one another based on that daily competition.
“It feels like I’ve been going against Broderick for a long time,” said Zusevics, who hails from Arlington Heights, Ill. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I think that he’s a hell of a player, especially going against him every day I know how long his arms are.”
Zusevics and Binns rarely face off against the other starters because they’re locked into their positions. Binns, a St. Paul, Minn. native, uses his arm length to offset his height, which Iowa lists as 6-foot-2. Binns has compiled 13. 5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in his three seasons at Iowa. Binns used his arms to bat down a pass against Arizona last year and turn it into a 20-yard touchdown. He also blocked one of two late field-goal attempts to beat Northern Iowa 17-16 in 2009.
Zusevics said staying technically sound is crucial toward stopping Binns in practice. Otherwise he’ll get mopped.
“You’ve got to get your hands inside and take that weapon away from him,” Zusevics said. “You can’t let them use their long leverage to their advantage. Those long arms are big for him. He comes off the ball well. He’s a heck of a player.
“That’s where technique is so crucial to being successful on the line. You can be as big and as strong as you want, but if you let a guy like Broderick in on your chest, he’ll take you for a ride.”
Binns has built an equal respect for Zusevics, whom he considers the best Iowa right tackle he’s faced in practice. Zusevics is 6-5, weighs 295 and at times poses a difficult match-up for Binns. Zusevics started all 13 games last year.
“Markus, he’s fast, strong, just as big (as Iowa’s past tackles),” Binns said. “I feel like he brings more to the table than those other guys just because of how athletic he is. Whereas Kyle Calloway, Dace Richardson,those guys are obviously big guys, but I feel like Markus is more athletic than those guys.
“(Zusevics) is just at the top.”
The healthy respect for another doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive, however. They’ve went at it a few times in practice, which is bound to happen in two-a-day practices in humid August.
“Yeah, it gets a little bit heated at times,” Zusevics said. “It might get a little bit heated on the field, but we’re all friends off the field. Nothing ever serious. It’s a bunch of guys hitting all day.”
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