Iowa landed its biggest recruit for the 2014 season — season, not recruiting class — Monday afternoon.
Junior offensive tackle Brandon Scherff confirmed that he will return for his senior season at Iowa and forgo the NFL draft. The 6-5, 315-pounder was recently named first team All-Big Ten by a vote of league coaches.
At some point Sunday afternoon, Scherff met with head coach Kirk Ferentz and offensive line coach Brian Ferentz and told them he intended to stay in Iowa City for 2014.
“I had an idea in my head before my family and I met with [the Ferentzes],” Scherff told KCRG on Monday. “That sealed the deal for me.”
Kirk Ferentz was asked about Scherff’s return Sunday night. He didn’t growl at the question, which often happens when coaches are asked about players leaving early for the NFL. Maybe that was a clue.
Ferentz acknowledged Sunday night that offensive tackle Brandon Scherff has the NFL choice in front of him. Scherff, a fourth-year junior, was named first-team all-Big Ten by league coaches last week.
“It’s not great secret he’ll have a choice,” Ferentz said. “He’s a very good football player. We’ve had other guys who’ve had choices, too, historically. That’s a credit to him. There’s no urgency right now, when it’s time for him to comment on that, he’ll do so.
“It’s a credit to him. He’s done a great job.”
This moves Iowa to 2-for-4 in left offensive tackles who’ve had the option of staying or leaving for the NFL. After the 2002 season, Robert Gallery announced that he planned to stay at Iowa. Bryan Bulaga left early for the NFL after the 2009 season. Riley Reiff also left early after 2011. Bulaga was the 23rd pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2010; Reiff went to the Lions at No. 23 in the 2012 draft.
Gallery returned for his senior season, won the 2003 Outland Trophy and went No. 2 in the draft to the Oakland Raiders. Gallery’s first contract with the Raiders was for seven years and was worth a potential $60,000,000 with an $18,000,000 signing bonus.
Tight end Dallas Clark and running back Shonn Greene also left Iowa with a year of eligibility remaining, but they would’ve been 24-year-old seniors and they won national awards at their positions (Mackey Award for tight ends; Doak Walker Award for running backs).
Why decide now?
“I already had my mind made up, there’s no reason to wait,” Scherff said. “Just get it out there so everybody knows. I’m happy it’s out there and that it’s over with.”
Scherff was seen by some NFL draft websites as a potential first-round pick. He’ll be considered one of the nation’s top three offensive tackles headed into 2014.
“You always dream about going to the NFL when you’re a little kid,” Scherff said. “I had the opportunity and was lucky enough to be in that spot. I’m happy with my choice. I have a lot to improve on. I always want to become a better player.”
Scherff missed the final five weeks of the 2012 season when he suffered a dislocated ankle and broken fibula against Penn State. Early this season, the injury flared a few times and took him out for a few series.
The Ferentzes showed Scherff some NFL contracts of O-linemen in Sunday’s short meeting. It sounded as though Scherff had already decided to stay before that went very far.
Scherff will take out an insurance policy. Private companies and the NCAA offer policies. For football players, the average policy cost is $7,800 to $15,000 per $1 million insured.
With Scherff back at left tackle, Iowa’s offensive line will have three returning starters, including center Austin Blythe and guard Jordan Walsh, to build around. Junior Andrew Donnal also played a lot this season for Iowa, rotating at guard with Walsh.