OFFENSIVE TACKLE BRETT VAN SLOTEN
Arrival: When the former Decorah High School prep was a senior, he finished fifth in the Gazette's voting for prep athlete of the year. Iowa wide receiver and Solon guard Matt Morrison tied for first. Former Marion prep and current Iowa O-lineman Drew Clark finished fourth.
Van Sloten played on the edge for Decorah. He was a TE-DE type. He saw interest from Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas and UNI. Iowa was the only school to move on an offer and did so only after it lost four-start offensive tackle David Barrent.
Iowa was swamped with a rash of headlines stemming from off-field incidents. Barrent picked Iowa in May 2008 and then changed to Michigan State in late July. Iowa offered Van Sloten shortly thereafter and he committed in September '08.
Last May, Barrent decided to forgo his final three years of eligibility because of chronic lower-back problems. He received a medical disqualification, meaning he remained on scholarship to continue his education while not counting toward the NCAA's 85-man scholarship limit.
Van Sloten is listed as the No. 1 right tackle going into fall camp.
2012 Takeoff: Van Sloten has been on campus for four seasons. His only meaningful snaps came in the last game of his sophomore year. Senior Markus Zusevics succumbed to a stomach flu early in Iowa's matchup against Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl. Van Sloten played three-plus quarters and stood up against a fairly talented D-line.
"It happened really fast. If I had a question in the huddle, I just asked Riley Reiff (first-round pick of the Detroit Lions)," Van Sloten said. "I felt prepared, but those are were experienced."
This is the 6-7, 295-pounder's fourth year on campus as a redshirt junior. It's his time to be a starter, to be a contributor and so here he is. Van Sloten is the most experienced candidate at right offensive tackle, but he could be challenged by junior Nolan MacMillan.
"This is my chance to have a good first impression as far as playing time," Van Sloten said. "Coach [Greg] Davis when he first got here said, you only get one chance for one first impression. Yes, I've been here for three years, but I haven't had a chance to play a significant amount.
"Even before coach Davis said that, it was my thought going into it. Make a good first impression and let the chips fall where they may."
Iowa obviously is replacing both offensive tackles this season, with sophomore Brandon Scherff currently No. 1 on the left side. Van Sloten and Scherff have MacMillan and sophomore Andrew Donnal as No. 2s. There has been some hand wringing on the recruiting front for an offensive tackle, but if these four hold, it's probably a more pressing issue for the 2014 class (with Cedar Falls Ross Pierschbacher probably fairly high on that list).
A lot of teams love to have right tackles who are simply difficult to get around, meaning RTs who are 6-7 or 6-8 and who weigh 330-plus. Zusevics weighed in at 303 during the NFL Combine. Van Sloten is 295 and holding, even during summer workouts in this heat.
"I would like to keep putting on the weight, but at the same time I want to keep getting stronger," he said.