IT'S BEEN THE SUMMER OF SCHERFF. Iowa's preseason all-American left tackle returned after projections of a first round draft selection to serve as king of the Big Ten offensive linemen for his final season. Brandon Scherff has the chance to be the best lineman to play at Iowa since Robert Gallery. He'll likely get drafted higher than Bryan Bulaga and Riley Reiff. Both chose to forego their senior season to pursue future careers in the NFL. Scherff has gained the nation's attention as a "freak" and earned praise from Kirk Ferentz, one of the nation's most respected offensive line gurus.
On the opposite side of the line is a fifth year senior and first time starter Andrew Donnal. He, like Scherff, arrived to Iowa as part of the 2010 recruiting class. Donnal was considered the better prospect by the recruiting sites. Rivals listed him as a four-star prospect and the ninth best player in the state of Ohio. Donnal picked Iowa over offers from Stanford, South Carolina, Michigan and others.
Both Scherff and Donnal saw action as red-shirt freshmen in 2011. Donnal played in mop-up time and on special teams while Scherff played left guard and eventually became the starter and earned all-Big Ten freshman team honors. Both were injured in 2012 against Penn State and didn't finish the season.
Scherff made a name for himself last year and was, perhaps, the best offensive lineman in the league. Better than 2013 Big Ten king Tyler Lewan. Donnal was slow to recover from the ACL injury that ended his 2012 season. He played in a reserve role and split time at guard while senior Brett Van Sloten held down the right tackle spot.
Right tackle is all Donnal's now. He may not finish the season on first team all-Big Ten lists but if history holds true, he'll get a shot next winter in the NFL. Scherff will likely join Gallery, Bulaga and Reiff as first round draft picks and Donnal could join Kyle Calloway, Matt Tobin and Brett Van Sloten as Iowa linemen that got a chance in the league. Calloway was a seventh round pick of the Buffalo Bills while Tobin and Van Sloten signed free agent contracts following the draft. Tobin could start for the Eagles this season and Van Sloten is trying to make the Ravens roster.
That's two potential NFL tackles starting for Iowa this season. The last time Iowa produced two NFL tackles was the 2010 NFL Draft (Bulaga, Calloway). 2009 was a pretty good year for Iowa Football. Jake Rudock will be well protected.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BALL. Carl Davis, like Scherff, has earned preseason recognition and honors. Even national attention. Scouts love Davis for his size, 6'5" 315 pounds. Next to Davis starts one of, if not the best, defensive player on the 2014 Iowa defense, Louis Trinca-Pasat.
LTP and Davis were also part of Iowa's 2010 recruiting class. Both were three-star recruits, according to Rivals. Davis from Michigan and LTP from Chicago. Trinca-Pasat picked Iowa over offers from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State and Stanford.
While Davis clogs lanes with his size, Trinca-Pasat makes plays with his relentless style of play. He's a grinder and it's often not pretty work lining up over center. LTP has out-performed Davis over the course of their careers statistically. Both, like DTs often do, started off slowly. It was 2012 when they started to earn their playing time. Davis finished 2012 with 14 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss (TFL) in 11 games. LTP recorded 40 tackles, four for a loss in 12 games.
Last year, the light really went on for Davis as he finished with 42 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four TFL. Trinca-Pasat posted similar numbers with 38 tackles, one sack and eight TFL. Their numbers are similar but Davis' size and progress from 2012-13 gets him the attention.
LTP may not get a lot of love from NFL scouts. He's listed at 6'3" and 290 pounds but he's likely closer to 6'1". Mike Daniels was only 6'1" and 280 while at Iowa but he has insane strength that helped him gather nine sacks and 13.5 TFL in 2011. Matt Kroul is probably the better comparison. Kroul was listed as 6'3" 281 at Iowa and lasted a handful of seasons with the New York Jets practice squad. Like Donnal, there's a potential professional career for Trinca-Pasat.
Brandon Scherff and Carl Davis will be the names we hear the most this year (for those of us watching at home). Over the summer the script is set for color commentators: Scherff lifts weights, Davis transformed his body, Weisman didn't like making his bed at Air Force. While the analyst retells boring (to us) stories there will be more going down on the field. There's the other guys that play a major role in Iowa's potential successes this season. Andrew Donnal and Louis Trinca-Pasat are two the figure to be a major part of every possible victory.