IOWA CITY, Ia. — The possibility of Drew Ott being granted a medical hardship and a fifth season of eligibility still exists. And Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz provided a glimmer of hope Wednesday that the odds were better than a long shot.
“It's still in the works, and I've learned a couple of things that make me a little bit more optimistic,” Ferentz said during his National Signing Day news conference. “But still, it's hard to say where it's going to go.”
To quote Jim Carrey’s character in (the original) Dumb and Dumber: So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
“I'm a little optimistic right now,” Ferentz reiterated.
Ott was Iowa’s most dominant pass rusher last season but only played one game at full strength, the season opener against Illinois State in which he was overpowering with two sacks and a forced fumble in the Hawkeyes’ 31-14 win. In the next game, the powerful defensive end suffered a severe left elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, and he tore the ACL in his right knee on Oct. 10 against Illinois that ended his season.
C.J. Beathard is doing “real well” following sports-hernia surgery in January, Ferentz said.
Iowa’s all-Big Ten Conference quarterback played hurt in the final 12 games, and his lower body dwindled during the Illinois game. He powered through the rest of the way, helping lead Iowa’s 12-0 regular season and first Rose Bowl trip in 25 years.
The typical recovery time is six weeks, so he should be good to go when spring practice starts in late March. Iowa’s spring practice/game is scheduled for April 23 at Kinnick Stadium, and the school confirmed plans for another West Des Moines practice sometime during the weekend of April 8-10.
“For obvious reasons we were hoping not to have to do surgery, and we knew it was a possibility, and then as the clock started ticking, that just was — it looked like … the prudent thing to do,” Ferentz said. “And we're confident he'll be ready to go when spring ball starts. We're all eager to see him full speed again. It's been about four months now, five months, maybe six.”