Scherff: Silence is golden for Outland finalist
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Silence is golden in Brandon Scherff's world. On a deer stand, quiet as the dead of night. In the tranquility of a fishing boat, cast after cast. In a farm field, waiting for a wedge of Canadian geese to fly within range.
The avid outdoorsman doesn't like to talk about himself, and he uses an economy of words when he does. He was named the Big Ten's offensive lineman of the year last week because of his execution on the field, not his eloquence.
"It's nice," Scherff said of the award. "But all those accolades, they wouldn't happen if it wasn't for the team."
Expect a similar reaction if Scherff, Iowa's 6-foot 5-inch, 320-pound senior left tackle, is named the winner of the Outland Trophy that goes to the nation's top interior lineman. That award will be presented Thursday night during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Scherff will be there, accompanied by Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz. Scherff, Reese Dismukes of Auburn and Malcom Brown of Texas are the finalists.
"To become one of the best offensive linemen in the nation was one of my goals," Scherff said. "It comes through a lot of hard work. If it wasn't for my teammates, I wouldn't be up there. Thanks to them for pushing me."
Scherff would become Iowa's fourth winner of the Outland Trophy, presented for the 69th time Thursday. Robert Gallery won it in 2003, Alex Karras in 1957 and Calvin Jones in 1955.
Scherff, from Denison, would also become the third native Iowan to win the award. He would join Gallery, from Masonville, and Chad Hennings of Elberon, who won it in 1987 as a senior at the Air Force Academy. Hennings played in high school at Benton of Van Horne, where his coach was Reese Morgan.
Morgan, now in his 15th season on Kirk Ferentz's staff at Iowa, was the lead recruiter on Scherff.
"He just had all the characteristics we look for in guys," Morgan said.
Scherff had size, strength and ability. He came from a great family. A humble, high-character kid and a multi-sport star.
"So it was easy saying, 'Boy, we can see this guy fitting in,' " Morgan said.
Morgan coached Gallery. He also coached Scherff for two seasons before switching from offensive line coach to defensive line coach in 2012. Throw in Hennings and you could say the Outland Trophy runs through Morgan.
Scherff could have left for the NFL after his junior season, when he would have been a first-round pick. But he decided to return, to cement his legacy as one of Iowa's all-time greats.
"I've never regretted my decision," Scherff said.
Scherff's athleticism and strength have him a sure-fire NFL first-round pick again. Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Scherff No. 6 on his latest first-round projections.
Iowa's Kirk Ferentz got his first taste of college coaching in 1980 at Pittsburgh as a graduate assistant, working with the offensive line. He coached Mark May, who won the Outland Trophy that year and will be a presenter Thursday.
Then Gallery came along, a tight end in high school and a standout left offensive tackle at Iowa. Scherff played quarterback and tight end at Denison, before moving to the line as a senior. When Scherff was named an Outland Trophy finalist on Dec. 1, Gallery called him.
"He said congratulations," Scherff said. "And just keep working."
If Scherff wins the Outland Trophy Thursday, the official presentation will take place Jan. 15 in Omaha, Neb., 70 miles from his hometown of Denison.
"It would be neat," Scherff said. "But we're focusing on winning a bowl game. So you've got to put that aside and worry about how you're going to improve and get better as a player."
IOWA OFFENSIVE LINEMEN SELECTED IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE NFL DRAFT
1966: John Niland, guard, Dallas (No. 5)
1976: Rod Walters, guard, Kansas City (No. 14)
1982: Ron Hallstrom, guard, Green Bay (No. 22)
1984: John Alt, tackle, Kansas City (No. 21)
1986: Mike Haight, tackle, New York Jets (No. 22)
1997: Ross Verba, tackle Green Bay (No. 30)
2004: Robert Gallery, tackle, Oakland (No. 2)
2010: Bryan Bulaga, tackle, Green Bay (No. 23)
2012: Reilly Reiff, tackle, Detroit (No. 23)