Brown: Scherff's passion for football now a profession
CHICAGO – A road trip, in Brandon Scherff's world, is getting behind the wheel of his SUV and driving to his favorite fishing hole or hunting spot.
Tuesday was different. He got on an airplane and flew to Chicago for the NFL Draft.
"Took 41 minutes," Scherff said.
It wasn't a round-trip ticket. Scherff had 32 possible destinations as the draft unfolded. Selected by the Washington Redskins with the fifth pick Thursday, Scherff flew to the nation's capital on Friday to start the next chapter of his football life.
What a journey, a career that started as a member of the Denison Little Eagles, then the Denison-Schleswig Monarchs, to the Iowa Hawkeyes and now Washington. A trip that beat the odds, too, a small-town kid with big-time dreams.
"You can't give up on your dreams," Scherff said. "You have to set things that you want to achieve, just go after it and don't let anybody tell you no."
Attending the draft, and everything leading up to it, would be a pinch-me moment for many. Not for Scherff.
His highlight for the week?
"Going to bed at night," he said. "No, I'm kidding."
Scherff took part in numerous activities, including a youth football clinic.
"It was cool," he said. "I remember when I was a kid in that position. It was an awesome experience for them and us, too."
Scherff also spoke at a high school and rubbed elbows with NFL legends. But he was most comfortable hanging with his entourage, which included his parents, Bob and Cindy; his brother, Justin; his sisters, Kristin and Megan; and his girlfriend, Jenni De Ruyter.
That's where he got his values and work ethic, the road map to the success he's had. When he plays at FedEx Field, part of him will still be at Denison's stadium on a Friday night. He said he'll always be just a kid from Denison.
"Because it's helped me get to where I'm at," Scherff said. "You can never forget where you came from. You've always got to keep that with you."
If Scherff had been calling the shots, he would have watched the draft in Denison instead of Chicago.
"You could invite only so many people to the draft, when there's so many other people that have helped you," Scherff said. "So I just want to say thank you. Maybe we'll have a little party."
Scherff's loyalty to the University of Iowa is also part of this story. He arrived on campus at 324 pounds and spent the early part of his career getting pounded by defensive linemen Adrian Clayborn, Mike Daniels and Karl Klug. Now, he's joining their NFL fraternity.
One primetime football tradition has the starters saying their names and the school they attended. Some go the high school route, and I wondered if Scherff would do the same if he starts in Washington's Dec. 7 game with Dallas. The answer is no.
"University of Iowa," Scherff said. "Yup."
Scherff has attended one NFL game in person, when he was in the fifth grade. He won a Punt, Pass and Kick competition and got to see Minnesota host Miami in December 2002. Gary Anderson kicked a 53-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 20-17 victory.
The spectator is now the employee. Football, Scherff's passion, is now his profession. He's got a three-day mini-camp this week. When he flew to Washington on Friday, it felt different than his trip to Chicago three days earlier.
"A business trip," Scherff said.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.