Playing in Scherff's shadow, Donnal also has NFL future

Rick Brown

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Andrew Donnal isn't jealous of his teammate and good buddy Brandon Scherff, Iowa's consensus All-American left offensive tackle and Outland Trophy winner.

"With everything he's gotten, he's such a humble guy," Donnal said. "You never hear him talking about it or gloating about it. That's something that makes Brandon special. I don't think a lot of people could handle the kind of success he's had, in the manner he does it in."

Scherff is a sure-fire first-round pick in April's NFL Draft. Donnal, Iowa's starting right offensive tackle, plays in Scherff's shadow. But he, too, has a bright NFL future according to Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz.

"There's no question about that," Ferentz said. "The key for Andrew is to improve, and he did that all season long. Every year we have a couple of guys that maybe early the scouts aren't really focused on or ask about. And by late October they're wired in."

While Scherff and defensive tackle Carl Davis were being eyeballed by NFL scouts from the season's first snap, Donnal and defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat were more of an acquired taste.

"Tackles are really hard to find," Ferentz said. "So Andrew has put himself in a good position. And it's a credit to his hard work. And he's overcome a tough injury, like Scherff, so that really makes you respect a player and what they do throughout a career, sticking with it and fighting through tough times and adversity, all those things most players do."

Scherff and Donnal were injured several plays apart in the first half of a 2012 loss to Penn State. Scherff broke a leg and dislocated an ankle. Donnal tore his MCL and PCL. They missed the final five games, but became close friends during the rehab process. Now, like Scherff, the 6-foot-7, 305-pound Donnal has played his way to the NFL's doorstep.

"I love to play football,"Donnal said. "So I'd love to keep playing. Hopefully I put myself in a position to keep doing that."

Donnal, who has played both guard and tackle positions at Iowa, considers versatility his strong suit.

"I think that's something that markets well for me," Donnal said. "I'm wide open to anything."

TaxSlayer Bowl

Jacksonville, Fla.

Tennessee vs. Iowa

2:20 p.m. Friday, ESPN