Iowa's Scherff named a finalist for Outland Trophy

Rick Brown

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Brandon Scherff was named a finalist for the Outland Trophy on Tuesday.

But to be quite honest, Iowa's senior left offensive tackle would rather walk off the field with the Heroes Trophy after a win against Nebraska Friday, as well as a bowl trophy in his final college game, than collecting an individual award.

"I think I'd rather have the team success," said the 6-foot-5, 320-pounder from Denison, considered a sure-fire first-round NFL Draft pick next spring. "We want to come out with two more wins and two more trophies. That's going to mean a lot more than anything else."

Auburn senior center Reese Dismukes and Texas junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown join Scherff as the three finalists for the Outland, which goes to the nation's best interior lineman. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 during the Home Depot College Football Awards show. The trophy presentation will take place in Omaha, Neb., on Jan. 15, just 75 miles from Scherff's home town of Denison.

Iowa has had three Outland Trophy winners: Robert Gallery in 2003, Alex Karras in 1957 and Calvin Jones in 1955.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has had several of his players win national awards, in addition to Gallery. Placekicker Nate Kaeding won the Lou Groza Award in 2002, tight end Dallas Clark won the Mackey Award in 2002 and running back Shonn Greene won the Doak Walker Award in 2008.

"Brandon is in that category as a college player," Ferentz said. "He's just a rare talent."

Scherff was considered a first-round NFL pick a year ago as well, but decided to return to college. Tuesday, he said it was a decision he's never regretted.

"I'm absolutely glad I decided to come back," Scherff said.

Ferentz calls Scherff "a special young person. He's had an outstanding career. I'm pleased I had the opportunity to work with him for five years."

Ferentz, who was an offensive line coach in the NFL earlier in his career, thinks Scherff could make an immediate impact at the next level.

"If I was an NFL line coach, I'd love to have an opportunity to get him in the organization," Ferentz said.

Scherff had a scare when he injured a knee against Ball State in the second game of the season. But after having surgery the following Monday, he played the entire game against Iowa State five days later.

"I've never been around a player in my career who has done that," Ferentz said.

Scherff said it took him four games to get back to 100 percent. Now he'll be one of 16 seniors playing their final game at Kinnick Stadium Friday.

"It's going to be very emotional," Scherff said. "I can remember back to the first time I walked out there (at Kinnick Stadium). I can't believe it's come this fast. But that's football for you."

WILL THE BELL RING? It's not known if Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell, who was knocked out of last week's game against Minnesota after his head slammed into the turf, will play Friday.

"Questionable," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Tuesday when asked about Bell's status.

Bell, a four-year starter, is the Cornhuskers' leader in both career receptions, 171, and career receiving yards, 2,565. His 18 touchdown receptions rank third all-time at Nebraska.

KOEHN IN RHYTHM: Placekicker Marshall Koehn got off to a rocky start as Mike Meyer's replacement this season. He missed three of his first five field-goal attempts, all inside the 40, in the Hawkeyes' first two games.

But the junior from Solon has made eight of nine since, including four of five from 40 yards or longer. His only miss over the last nine games was a 46-yarder that hit the right upright on the final play of the first half at Illinois.

Koehn credits former Iowa all-American and NFL kicker Nate Kaeding for helping him find his way. They visited after Koehn missed field goals of 35 and 37 yards against Ball State.

"He told me what he did before every kick, and I related that to my own experience," Koehn said. "I've incorporated that into what I do before a kick. He definitely gave me some words of advice, talked about what he went through and how he tried to overcome it."

As a freshman in 2000, Kaeding was just 6-for-11 inside the 40. He made 29-of-32 from that distance over his final two seasons and won the Lou Groza Award that goes to the nation's top kicker as a junior in 2002.

Kaeding told Koehn that he needed to come up with a pre-kick routine and stick with it. Now, every time the ball crosses the 50, Koehn starts kicking into a net on the sideline.

"Just actively checking in with myself during the game, making sure I'm where I need to be and ready to kick a field goal," Koehn said.

There has never been a question about Koehn's leg strength. He made a 52-yarder at Pittsburgh and leads the Big Ten and is third nationally in touchback percentage (66.7).

"I guess kickoffs have always been my strong point," said Koehn, who is 30-for-30 on point-after kicks this season. "I feel like I can always kick it in the end zone."

CATCH TIMES TWO: Odell Beckham Jr.'s remarkable one-handed touchdown reception for the New York Giants in Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys was an instant classic. It went viral on the Internet and was immediately labeled one of the greatest catches in NFL history.

Iowa saw Beckham's wizardry up close and personal last season when he played for LSU. Beckham had two catches against the Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl. One of them was a remarkable one-handed catch right in front of the Iowa sideline for a 29-yard gain in the third quarter.

"Unfortunately, I was standing well too close to it," Ferentz said. "That was really impressive."

KRIEGER-COBLE OUT: Tight end Henry Krieger-Coble had surgery on his shoulder Monday and is out for the season, Ferentz said.

"It was a multi-month repair," Ferentz said. "We're looking at spring there."

Krieger-Coble had three catches this season. Two of them were for touchdowns.

Ferentz hopes that defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat, who injured an arm against Wisconsin, will be able to play. Trinca-Pasat is listed as a starter on the latest depth chart.

"We hope he can play," Ferentz said. "We've got a lot of guys hanged up."

50 MARK: Wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley has not missed a game due to injury in his entire career. Friday will be his 50th career game.

Martin-Manley leads Iowa with 43 catches this season, accounting for 431 yards and two touchdowns.

He is third on the Hawkeyes' career receptions list with 165 catches, trailing only Marvin McNutt (170) and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (173).

"The numbers back it up," Ferentz said. "He's really had a productive career for us."