CENTER JAMES FERENTZ
Arrival: Remember when Ferentz and Josh Koeppel locked in a battle for starting center? That was three years ago now. The question when Ferentz broke into the lineup was height and weight. His dad, head coach Kirk Ferentz, has even joked about the height thing. Well, three years into this James Ferentz still has the job.
Ferentz (6-2, 284) has started all 26 games over the last two seasons at center. Going into the 2012 season, the Iowa City High grad is on the Rimington Award watch list (nation’s top center). In ’11, he was honorable mention all-Big Ten by league coaches and media.
He’s also listed on the third-team all-Big Ten in Phil Steele’s 2012 College Football Preview.
The height comments dried up a while ago.
2012 Takeoff: When James Ferentz broke into the lineup, then-offensive line coach Reese Morgan said Ferentz’s attitude set him apart, saying he “plays with an edge.”
This means the guy is a pain in the butt pad for people lined up across from him.
“It’s a toughness, a mentality, a demeanor,” Morgan said. “It means I’m going to go out and I’m going to have a little bit of a physical edge that we like our guys to have. [Bryan] Bulaga had it. When I say edge, that’s a compliment. He’s got an edge to it.”
James Ferentz might not be the prototypical height (his weight is 284 now and that’s close to prototypical if not right at it), but he’s always had more than prototypical fight.
“We try to make sure we’re being physical, but play within the boundaries of the rules,” he said. “We try to pride ourselves on being a physical unit.”
It’s not technique as much as it’s a tone. It’s not strategy as much as it’s an accumulation.
“I’ve played against really physical players, too,” James Ferentz said. “When a guy is beating on you consistently, it’s difficult to come back to him every snap. You try to impose that same physical mentality on the other guy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
“The last punch” can make or break plays. It can mean the difference between springing a running back for 5 yards or 50 yards.
“A nasty offensive lineman is someone who plays hard through the whistle,” Ferentz said. “He really wants to make sure the other guy knows he’s there.”
That’s a good bet in Ferentz’s case.
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