IOWA CITY — Tight end C.J Fiedorowicz was considered one of the nation’s top 150 prospects entering college four years ago, and many Iowa fans had him penciled in not only to start, but to dominate as a true freshman.
It never quite worked out that way for Fiedorowicz, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 265 pounds. Midway through his sophomore year, he had two career catches and was the team’s third tight end. He was unhappy but realized he had the power to change the situation. For him to reach his potential, he needed consistency at practice as both a blocker and a receiver.
“I was the guy who was out here practicing every day and not getting that game time,” Fiedorowicz said. “I wasn’t used to being the guy who sits on the bench and is that fan. One day I was like, ‘I don’t want to watch on the sidelines anymore. I don’t want to be that guy.’ Ever since then, I’ve been busting my butt.
“I just realized I could be a big part of this offense. I made that decision.”
He since has started 17 games and became a productive member of the offense last season. He caught 45 passes for 433 yards, but 29 catches were in the final six games. At Michigan he hauled in eight passes for 99 yards. A week later against Nebraska, he caught six for 56 yards.
Fiedorowicz, a senior, said it wasn’t a conscious decision by the offense to get him more involved last year. He simply was open, and former quarterback James Vandenberg threw him the ball.
But the statistics are irrelevant for Fiedorowicz, other than a 4-8 record. That kept the Hawkeyes from a bowl for only the second time since 2000.
“It hasn’t been exactly what I wanted,” Fiedorowicz said of his career. “Last year wasn’t what we’d hoped, a 4-8 season. But we’ve been working hard this whole off-season. I think you’ll see a different team this season.”
Iowa will ease some of its usual restrictions because of the unseasonably hot weather expected for Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois.
Fans will be allowed to enter with more than one water bottle, and empty bottles are allowed. There also will be water stations, cooling stations, icing tubs and cooling fans, Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said.
“This is my eighth season and this, by far and away, will be my hottest day since I’ve been here,” Barta said. “So going back and dusting off those plans we’ve used in the past, just having more awareness with our fan base.”
Barta said extra medical personnel will be on hand and the concession stands are instructed to not run out of water.
“Don’t start drinking water that day. Start on Wednesday, Thursday ...,” Barta said. “Just be smart.”
Tickets still available
Less than 1,000 general-public tickets remain for Saturday’s game, Barta said. But he’s most concerned that student ticket sales. The school allocates between 10,000 and 10,500 for students.“The students are back on campus and that’s the area that’s lagging the most,” Barta said. “Not just the revenue part of our equation but certainly a major part of the gameday experience. That’s the one component that I’m still waiting to catch up. But we’ll see. We’ve sold quite a few in the last week or two.”