Hawkeyes' heartwarming tribute to fifth-year walk-on

Rick Brown

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Seniors on the Iowa football team lead their teammates in the singing of the "Iowa Fight Song" in the locker room after victories.

On Saturday, Mark Weisman called Tommy Gaul front and center to take the lead role.

"Tommy deserved it, in every way," said Weisman, who scored two touchdowns in last week's 45-29 victory over Indiana at Kinnick Stadium. "I'm so proud of him. I can't say enough good things about him."

Gaul, a fifth-year senior and walk-on from Des Moines who had seen limited duty in three games during his career, entered the game on the first offensive series and went the distance.

"The locker room, after a win, is always great," said the former West Des Moines Dowling standout. "To be able to lead us in the fight song was a great experience."

Gaul got his shot when right guard Jordan Walsh injured an ankle on the second play from scrimmage against Indiana.

Walsh's backup, redshirt freshman Boone Myers, was injured in practice last week and couldn't play. Center Austin Blythe moved to right guard, and Gaul played center.

"I thought they did OK," Ferentz said. "The whole line played pretty well. Tommy Gaul was the key to the whole thing."

Blythe played guard earlier in his career, so his move wasn't a major issue. But Gaul got the first significant appearance of his career.

"That's the first time Tommy played when it counted," Ferentz said. "And it was a tough assignment. They've got a big, physical defensive line, and they had somebody on the center's head on every snap. He didn't pick the easiest of weeks to start out, and he did a great job."

Walsh has started every game the past two seasons, and is currently listed as No. 1 on the depth chart released Monday. But Gaul might get another shot Saturday at Maryland.

"We've got a handful of guys hurting now, and Jordan is one of those guys," Ferentz said.

Like Gaul, Weisman came to Iowa as a walk-on. He appreciates the commitment Gaul has made to stick it out for five seasons.

"He prepared like he was going to go in there every week, and it definitely showed out there," Weisman said.