Farm-raised Hawkeye Drew Ott's unique contest victory

Ryan Murken,

IOWA CITY, Ia. -- The summer routine for Drew Ott was pretty much like that of the rest of his Iowa football teammates.

"I just focused on getting, bigger, faster and stronger," Ott said, "working on speed rushing, watching film and trying to improve."

Iowa defensive end Drew Ott poses for a photo during Iowa football media day on Aug. 4.

It may sound basic, but Ott's summer regime did come with one small alteration from many of his fellow defensive linemen.

Ott took a break from throwing around weight to throwing hay. He won the hay bale toss at Solon's annual Beef Days celebration in July.

The junior defensive end beat out former Hawkeye and NFL lineman Matt Kroul in the hay bale toss.

That success was no surprise to Iowa defensive line coach Reese Morgan, who helped lure the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Ott to Iowa from tiny Trumbull, Neb.

"He's got a unique advantage. He's been a farmer for 20-some years," Morgan said. "He's been doing that since he's been young. That is just natural strength."

Ott says it was on the family farm that he picked up the work habits and toughness that helped him to get on the field as a true freshman in 2012.

"There are a lot of things you pick up on (at the farm)," Ott said. "How to do your job, how to work, taking care of the little things."

Ott's hoping to swap tossing hay bales for tossing ball carriers this fall.

Ott started 12 games last season as a sophomore and enters the season penciled in as a starter at defensive end, along with senior Mike Hardy.

Last year, Ott was eighth on the team with 50 tackles including 6 1/2 for loss and 2 1/2 sacks.

"Drew is getting there," Morgan said. "He's really competitive as heck, he's extremely competitive. He and (all-Big Ten left tackle) Brandon Scherff are going against each other a lot, and I think that really has helped both of those guys."

With his 12 career starts, Ott is the veteran of the Iowa defensive ends.

Hardy started the final six games last season and finished with 34 tackles including five for loss.

The junior trio of Riley McMinn, Melvin Spears and Nate Meier are listed as the backups entering fall camp and have combined for 10 career tackles.

"I think we can only get better," Ott said. "We've got 20 days here in camp to improve and I think everyone is hungry and ready to get better. We've got a lot to prove this year."