CHICAGO — This summer’s rogue wave for Iowa football has been . . . are you ready? . . . appendicitis.
Sure, doesn’t sound malevolent on its face, but you are talking about Big Ten football players who sort of make their livings off that core area of muscles. As far as summer calmities go, yes, it’s rather minor, but senior linebacker James Morris and sophomore cornerback Jordan Lomax would beg to differ.
“It shook me up, yes,” Morris said Wednesday during the first of two Big Ten media days at the Chicago Hilton. “I was pretty sick for two or three days. I went to emergency room once. They got everything calmed down and sent me home. Then, I went back and got a CT scan and had my appendix out.”
This was eight days ago for Morris. It didn’t rupture, he said. He expects to be 100 percent by the Northern Illinois game on Aug. 31 and hopes to miss just a little bit of fall camp, which starts Aug. 5. Lomax’s happened a little earlier.
“We went 14 years with four appendixes and then we get two in two weeks,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Neither had incisions, so that was a good thing. It’s just kind of random.”
In late June, Iowa graduate assistant DJ Hernandez was in the area of a fight that broke out in a West Hartford, Conn., diner. Two of the three people who were arrested as a result told police that they had been sitting with Hernandez, who is the brother of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriot now charged with murder.
Hartford police have said they “have no idea” if DJ Hernandez actually was in the diner at the time. If he was, he was gone before police arrived, according to reports.
Ferentz said Wednesday that the incident has been discussed and he remains behind Hernandez, who was hired in December to coach tight ends this season.
“I talked to him about it, and, as far as I know, he did the right thing,” Ferentz said.
Earlier this month, Ferentz was named as one of the five worst coaches in college football in a column written by Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel.
Mandel wrote, “The 2009 Orange Bowl proved an aberration in Ferentz’s otherwise unimpressive recent tenure. Take away that one 11-2 season and the Hawkeyes are 47-41 since 2005 under their $3.6 million-per-year coach.”
Iowa players responded Wednesday.
“It’s America, everyone has their opinions,” offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten said. “I have my opinions, too. My opinion is he’s not one of the worst. I didn’t read the article, I’m not into that. That guy’s entitled to his opinion. We’re all entitled to our own. I don’t agree with it.”
Linebacker Christian Kirksey said he didn’t see that story, but coming off a 4-8 2012, he’s seen a lot of negative go Iowa’s way this offseason.
“I use it as motivation,” Kirksey said. “I’m the type of guy who gives respect and wants respect given back. Once someone counts us out, I’m going to do my best to prove them wrong. That’s how a lot of my teammates feel.”
Wilson up in the air
The stats of freshman wide receiver Cameron Wilson, who caught 10 passes for 131 yards in the spring game, seems up in the air.
Asked about Wilson’s status on Wednesday, Ferentz said, “It’s not unusual this time of year for players to be looking around or contemplating [leaving]. We don’t have any announcements right now, but I imagine we’ll have the roster finalized when we get together here in the next few weeks.”
Iowa’s media day is Aug. 8.
All freshmen qualify?
This is an annual question. It’s also one that Ferentz can’t completely answer with high school transcripts still clearing the NCAA.
“As far as I know,” Ferentz said.
Wide receiver Damond Powell, a junior college transfer from Snow College, is still in Ephraim, Utah, finishing school work. That always was the understanding when Iowa recruited Powell, that he wouldn’t arrive in Iowa City until the summer was over.
“Hopefully, he gets that concluded,” Ferentz said. “We really like him. He’s a high-energy guy and a good player, we think. The biggest concern is what conditioning level will he be at when he gets here.”
Ferentz was asked if players came out of spring practice healthy.
“Yeah, I think so, outside of the two appendicitis,” he said. “We had some soft-tissue things like you always have, but we expect everyone to be ready to go.”
Ferentz added that all players were cleared for summer conditioning, which wraps up by the end of this week.
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