Trenchwork University

Kirk Ferentz breeds NFL linemen. While that is meant in the most literal sense because two of his sons have either previously played or currently play in the league, it is also in reference to the fact that of the 20 ex-Hawks currently on NFL teams, 14 of them play on the offensive or defensive line. Coincidence? Think again.

Ferentz has made a living, a pretty damn good one at that, by bringing in cornfed midwestern kids and having strength coach Chris Doyle pack on the pounds before turning out big-time NFL prospects come draft time every April. From Robert Gallery going number-two overall back in 2004, to Super Bowl champ and five-time Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda dominating the AFC North, the foundation of Iowa football is found in the trenches. Guys like second-year offensive lineman Brandon Scherff

continue to show that Chris Doyle created a system that has transcended into a linemen powerhouse, even though the strength coach is often labeled hot-headed and overpaid.

Ferentz and his staff have become so notorious for pumping out offensive linemen in particular that all the way back in 2010, Bleacher Report even did an article detailing who they thought were the top o-linemen that were drafted during Ferentz’s tenure at Iowa. Of those nine ex-Iowa offensive linemen who currently play in the NFL, three of them have Super Bowl rings, and four have made some sort of All-NFL or All-Rookie team.

As for the defensive linemen who used to call Kinnick Stadium home, four of them are still blossoming into the primes of their NFL careers, while Jonathan Babineaux is a 10-year veteran who recently became the longest tenured member of the Atlanta Falcons current roster.

Iowa’s M.O. has always been run the football and stop the run defensively and the reason Kirk Ferentz received his massive extension this year was because of the overall effectiveness he’s has sticking to his old school football roots. The buck starts and stops in the trenches for the Hawks and while Iowa has never produced NFL speedsters or flashy playmakers, the blue-collar ANF mantra is only bolstered by the plethora of NFL trench-men supplied by the Hawks.

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Iowa Quarterbacks and their lackluster NFL careers

If you listen to Colin Cowherd’s sports talk-radio show then you probably think Iowa football is a joke, which to a point, maybe he’s right. If you pay great attention to the NFL, however, and keep track of who’s on what team and where so-and-so went to school, then you probably recognize the University of Iowa for having a smorgasbord of offensive and defensive lineman scattered across both conferences in the NFL. If you’re at least somewhere on this spectrum of football fans, can you name a single Iowa quarterback who has had substantial success at the game’s highest level?

Me neither…

ANF and the NFL decided to do some research and take a peek at the list of Iowa QB’s who have seen great success at the collegiate level, but have done their best Ryan Leaf impressions after the fact. Alright, that was rude, no ex-Hawk QB’s have made those types of Johnny Football-esque mistakes, but there really is not a single Iowa quarterback who has so much as won a division title, let alone a playoff game in the NFL.

We decided to focus this research on five of the most prominent quarterbacks in Iowa history: Randy Duncan, Chuck Long, Brad Banks, Drew Tate, and Ricky Stanzi. Duncan was a beloved Iowa quarterback who sadly passed away earlier this week at the age of 79. While his professional football career didn’t last long, he was a very successful lawyer in the Des Moines area for many years.

Duncan was the only Iowa football player to have been taken first overall in the NFL Draft. Duncan grew up an Iowa boy, from Des Moines, and attended the University of Iowa in the late 1950’s where he won two Rose Bowls and was an All-American for the Hawks. In 1959 he was selected first overall by the Green Bay Packers, but decided for some reason he would rather wear denim tuxedos and play pro-ball in Canada. Duncan was never able to blossom at the professional level, eventually signing with the Dallas Texans of the American Football League. After a short stint with the Texans, Duncan called it quits from football after he was traded for the legendary sideline smoker Len Dawson.

Duncan may have sold his own poison when he decided to leave the pre-Lombardi Packers in ’59, as they would go on to win World Championships in ’61 and ’62 and eventually win the first two Super Bowl titles in ’67 and ’68. Whatever the cause was for Duncan’s lack of success at the professional game, it will never tarnish the outstanding legacy he has within the Iowa football program. Duncan was a reverent Hawkeye through and through, and he will be missed by many.

 

*Look for part 2 of this series in an upcoming ANF and the NFL post.*