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OH BROTHER: A BRIEF HISTORY OF BROTHERHOOD IN THE IOWA FOOTBALL PROGRAM

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BROTHERHOOD IS THE VERY PRICE AND CONDITION OF ANOTHER MAN’S SURVIVAL, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT

Minnesota v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Scanning this site these past few days, you may have come across JPinIC’s excellent roundup of Iowa football’s walk-on class.

The thing that jumped out to me the most in that piece wasn’t the probable talent Iowa has coming in from the walk-ons, but the fact that two brothers of current Iowa players were in the class. It made me look back and realize Iowa has had quite a few brothers run through this program.

Since I’m a blogger, and due to the fact Iowa basketball cancelled this season, I decided to spend some time researching Iowa’s brotherly love of the mostly-Ferentz era. Since you’re still reading this, you may as well just finish up the rest of the post. Here it goes!

LeShun & James Daniels

We’ll start with perhaps the most successful brotherly duo to ever wear the Black & Gold, because the Daniels’ were the first to cross my mind when I thought about this piece.

LeShun Daniels racked up over 1,000 rushing yards in 2016, thanks in large part to his brother James, who helped open up some big holes for his brother (and Akrum Wadley) to run through. James Daniels started 11 games that year and 12 this past season. James is forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft, where he’s projected to get taken in the second round.

LeShun Daniels currently finds himself on the Washington Redskins, but broke his foot during a team practice in December.

Riley & Brady Reiff

Another pair of recent brothers, Riley and Brady Reiff were never on the team at the same time, but both made their mark as members of the football program.

Riley Reiff was one of the best Iowa offensive lineman in recent memory, earning all-Big Ten honors and some all-America mentions. He started 37 games on the offensive line over three years, forgoing his senior year to enter the draft. He was selected 23rd overall by the Detroit Lions in 2012, and has started 84 games in his NFL career. Reiff’s addition to the Minnesota Vikings this past season was instrumental in getting the Purple & Gold to the NFC Championship game.

Brady has played sparingly his first two years at Iowa, but looks to make a push for a starting role as a defensive tackle in 2018.

Anthony & Nathan Nelson

You know Anthony Nelson as the terrorizing defensive end who led Iowa with 7.5 sacks this year. His brother, Nathan, comes in at 6-4, 230 lbs and is also projected to play on the defensive line. The younger Nelson comes in unheralded from Waukee, but if he takes to Doyle-ization half as well as his brother, then don’t be surprised if Iowa finds a spot for him on the field.

Brandon & Jaden Snyder

Jaden Snyder comes in with actual offers from programs such as South Dakota State, UNI and South Dakota. But it appears he would rather try and earn his way into playing time for a bigger program and spend a year with his brother in Iowa City.

Jaden is said to be bigger, stronger and faster than his brother Brandon, who’s started 14 games for Iowa at safety after also joining the program as a walk-on. Iowa’s tradition of putting a walk-on at safety could continue with Jaden Snyder.

Broderick & Marcus Binns

Broderick Binns started 31 games for Iowa, and was an instrumental piece of the defensive line on the team that won the Orange Bowl in 2009. He’s since stuck around in Iowa City, being named director of player development for the Iowa football team in 2016.

His younger brother, Marcus, didn’t quite find as much success. A walk-on running back in 2011, Binns never saw the field for Iowa. He suffered from the injury bug early on, and got caught up with the law, being charged with fifth-degree theft, firmly planting him in Kirk Ferentz’s doghouse.

Zach & AJ Derby

You all know AJ Derby as like one of the best Iowa recruits ever at one time, but the stars never quite aligned for AJD, who was done after spending two years in Iowa City. He went on to play for Bret Bielema in Arkansas, and is currently a tight end for the Miami Dolphins.

Zach Derby started 8 games at tight end for Iowa, backing up current NFL tight end CJ Fiedorowicz most of that time.

Ben & Nick Niemann

Ben Niemann’s graduation leaves to door wide open for his brother Nick to compete for a starting linebacker position in 2018. The older Niemann is graduating Iowa after a nice littler career in the Black & Gold, where he amassed 199 tackles, 2 interceptions and forced 2 fumbles in 40 starts.

Nick Niemann saw some time as a redshirt freshman in 2017, mostly as a special-teamer, where he logged 5 tackles.

Levi & Landan Paulsen

The chronicles of the Paulsen twins are well-documented, if not underwhelming given the fact neither brother has played much as a Hawkeye. Levi is expected to start (or at least push for a starting role) at either guard position this year, while Landan looks more suited to be a backup.

Levi has three starts under his belt, including one at right tackle in the Pinstripe bowl, so he has some versatility. Landan hasn’t started a game, but has seen action on special teams. It’s likely we find out this year if the Paulsen Hype is to be founded.

John, Nick & Robert Gallery

Did you know Robert Gallery had not one but TWO brothers who punted for Iowa? I sure didn’t until I sat down to write this!

John Gallery had 8 punts for Iowa in 2005, averaging 42.5 yards a pop.

His brother, Nick, played from 1993-96 and had a short stint in the NFL. He now runs a production company in Brooklyn.

Robert Gallery, meanwhile, won the Outland Trophy in 2003 and earned first-team all-American honors. He is perhaps the greatest offensive lineman to ever wear the Black & Gold. Robert was selected second overall in the 2004 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders, starting 103 games. He retired in 2012.

Iowa v Northern Illinois

Brian, James and Steve Ferentz

I almost forgot to include the Ferentz brothers in here!

Brian, as you all know, is Iowa’s offensive coordinator and probably head coach in-waiting if we’re being honest. Before heading back to Iowa City, he coached tight ends for the New England Patriots. As a player, BF started 21 games as a Hawkeye, and spent two years in the NFL as a free agent.

James Ferentz had a pretty illustrious career as a center for Iowa, starting 38 consecutive games at the position. He’s currently on the practice squad for the New England Patriots.

Steve Ferentz didn’t see any action at all until he was a senior on the 2015 team, only appearing in blowouts.

Shaun & Shane Prater

Shane only lasted one year in the Iowa football program, transferring to Iowa Western a year after being on campus. He reportedly had trouble keeping his grades up to stay with the team.

His twin brother, Shaun, had a better go of things in Iowa City. He was selected as first team all-conference as a corner in 2010 and 2011, starting 35 games over three years. He’s currently a free agent in the NFL, but has spent time with the Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals.

Iowa v Florida Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Scott & Nathan Chandler

Nathan started at quarterback for Iowa in 2003, leading the Hawkeyes to a 10-3 record and a win over Florida in the Outback Bowl.

Scott, meanwhile, cemented a legacy of his own. He left Iowa ranked second in school history among tight ends with 117 catches for 1,476 yards along with 10 touchdowns. He went on to be taken by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He spent eight years as a journeyman of sorts in the league, having his best years in Buffalo.

Brad Banks & CJ Jones (Cousins)

Jones caught 9 touchdowns from his cousin, Brad Banks, in 2002. That’s good enough to make this list.

Jim, John & Chuck Hartlieb

Chuck Hartlieb played quarterback for Iowa in 1987 & 88, and holds the school record for most touchdown passes in a game with 7. He ended his Iowa career with 6,269 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. He quarterbacked Iowa for Hayden Fry’s first win at the Horseshoe.

Jim Hartlieb also played QB, albeit with less success than his older brother. He split time with Paul Burmeister on the 1992 team, finishing that year with 1500 yards, 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

The youngest Hartlieb, John, played linebacker for Iowa during the 1993 season. That’s the only season Sports-Reference has logged for John, and the internet is relatively quiet on him. Who has more info?!

Bob, Mike & Mark Stoops

The Stoops brothers all played defensive back for Iowa in the 80s, each with distinction. Bob was a four-year starter, and named Iowa’s MVP in 1982.

Mike played on the same team as Chuck Long as a strong safety, earning all-conference honors in ‘83 & ‘84.

Mark played for Iowa from 86-88, recording 2 interceptions.

All three brothers went on to become graduate assistants at Iowa before starting their professional careers in the coaching field.

Chicago Bears v Los Angeles Raiders
Jay Hilgenberg
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

The Hilgenberg’s

This was at first going to be just about Jay and Joel Hilgenberg, but then I found out there’s been enough Hilgenberg’s through the Iowa program to field a basketball team.

Jerry Hilgenberg walked-on to Leonard Raffensperger’s Iowa team in 1950 to play quarterback. He converted to linebacker, starting at the position for three years. As a senior in 1953, he helped lead Iowa to a top-10 finish, being named an all-American for that season. He was Forest Evashevski’s first all-American at Iowa, and was also captain of the baseball team.

Hilgenberg was drafted by the Cleveland Browns … and the US Air Force. One of those teams doesn’t give you a choice. When he got out of the service, he served as an assistant coach at Iowa from 1956-63. During this time he was able to coach his younger brother, Wally.

Wally Hilgenberg started both as an offensive lineman and a linebacker for Iowa, and was drafted in the fourth round by the Detroit Lions in 1964. He played 16 seasons in the NFL, most famously with the Vikings, where he was a member of the Purple People Eaters. He was one of 11 players to play in all four of the Vikings’ Super Bowl appearances. His son, Luke Lindahl, walked-on to the Iowa program in 2013. Wally was inducted into the Iowa sports hall of fame in 1987.

Jay Hilgenberg is the oldest son of Jerry. He was a seven-time pro-bowler as a center and was a starter on the 1985 Bears Super Bowl team. He’s a nominee to be inducted in the NFL hall of fame and is currently a game analyst for WBBM-AM Radio in Chicago and the Bears Radio Network.

Joel Hilgenberg was a second-team all-American at center in 1983, getting drafted in the fourth round by the Saints in 1984. He played nine years in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl in 1992. He went on to Green Bay, where he was offensive quality control coach for the Packers in 2011, and assistant offensive line coach for 2012-13. He resigned his coaching position in April 2014.

I could be missing a Hilgenberg, I honestly don’t know.

Mike and Dave Haight

Mike Haight was the Big Ten offensive lineman of the year in 1985, leading to his becoming the first overall pick in the USFL draft by the Orlando Renegades in 1986. Well the USFL didn’t last much longer, and Haight never had the chance to play in Orlando. He was selected 22nd overall in the NFL draft by the Jets, starting 63 games for the Jets and Redskins until he retired in 1992.

Dave Haight was a first-team all-American in 1988 as a defensive lineman, being named the conference’s defensive lineman of the year in 1987. He’s the only lineman in Iowa history to record over 100 tackles in two separate seasons. His 346 career tackles rank 12th in Iowa history. Dave Haight wasn’t drafted to the NFL, leading him to quit football after graduating from Iowa.

Ronnie Harmon
Ronnie Harmon

Ronnie & Kevin Harmon

And finally, the end of our list. Both Harmon brothers played running back for the Hawkeyes, and later took their talents to the NFL. Ronnie ran for over 1800 yards through four years in Iowa City, was a second-team all-American running back in 1984, and a first-team selection the following year. He was selected 16th overall in the 1986 draft by the Bills, and lasted in the NFL for 12 seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in 1992 as a member of the Chargers.

I debated putting in highlights (?) of Iowa’s trip to the Rose Bowl in 1986, but decided not to.

Kevin Harmon didn’t have the illustrious career his brother did, but was still a fourth-round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks, where he lasted two seasons. He ended his Iowa career with 1100 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.


TL;DR, Iowa football sure has a rich history of brotherhood within its program. This sort of turned into a Where Are They Now, but trips down memory lane are always fun!

If I missed anyone, please let me know in the comments.