Iowa football: Safety Brandon Snyder leaving Hawkeye program

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

Brandon Snyder’s Iowa football career has come to an abrupt end.

The free safety who started all 13 games in Iowa's 2016 season but then sustained two serious knee injuries and ran into legal trouble told the Des Moines Register via text message Tuesday morning that he would be leaving the Hawkeye program to complete his final year of eligibility at South Dakota State.

The University of Iowa released a statement later Tuesday morning to announce Snyder's departure. The decision was mutual.

Brandon Snyder (37), who twice tore the ACL in his left knee in 2017, is transferring out of the Iowa football program.

Snyder will be immediately eligible at SDSU as a graduate transfer. He completed his final undergraduate class at Iowa on Monday.

CHAD LEISTIKOW:Snyder needs support after facing dark battles

BRANDON SNYDER: Former Iowa safety issues emotional Hawkeyes farewell

In conjunction with his departure, Snyder, a former walk-on from West Lyon High School in northwest Iowa, texted an emotional statement to the Register. In the 260-word message, he thanked Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff for the opportunity, praised the kids at the UI Children's Hospital and said he was "deeply saddened" that he couldn't finish his college career as a Hawkeye.

"I have given Iowa everything I have inside of me, but at this time I believe God is  leading me elsewhere," Snyder said. "I am submitting to His will and accepting that I am meant to be somewhere else."

In saying he would head to SDSU, an FCS power which happens to open the season at Iowa State, Snyder said he was looking forward to joining the Jackrabbits' "family culture."

In the Iowa release, Ferentz pointed to increased competition at Snyder's position leaving him a less-than-clear path to the field.

"We appreciate Brandon’s goal to play his full senior year," Ferentz said. "We wish him the very best and thank him for his grit on the field."

Snyder seemed to be on track to be one of the Hawkeye program's top comeback stories of 2018. After twice tearing his ACL in 2017 and an OWI arrest in December, Snyder was diligently rehabbing his left knee and his reputation to get ready for the season.

In a June interview with the Register, Snyder described the mundane and difficult road back to regaining his football health. He discussed how his weight-room numbers were as good as they’ve ever been.

But he also said working to win back the locker room was an ongoing challenge after his OWI arrest, in which his blood-alcohol level was .163 percent, more than twice the legal maximum to drive.

“You’ve got to earn the respect of your teammates back and the respect of your coaches,” Snyder said then. “That doesn’t happen overnight. It’s one of those things, you put your head down and show you’re still working hard. And eventually, you earn that trust back again.”

From the outside, it seemed everything was on track. At last week's Big Ten Media Days, the Hawkeye depth chart revealed Snyder as a co-starter with Jake Gervase at free safety. 

Then Tuesday's news hit.

Even without Snyder, the Hawkeyes remain deep at the safety position. Gervase, a former walk-on, developed into a solid performer as the 2017 went on and finished with 58 tackles and three interceptions for the season. He and Amani Hooker will likely be the starting safety tandem (both were elected to the team's 12-player leadership group), with sophomore Geno Stone as the top backup. 

Snyder's younger brother, Jaden, was planning to remain a Hawkeye as a freshman walk-on but hasn't yet joined the team.