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Shannon Ryan | Chicago Tribune | August 15, 2014

Physical ‘freak’

Iowa FB's Scherff Scherff is one of the premier linemen in the Big Ten

After a summer of catching 35-pound catfish and lifting 443-pounds, Iowa senior Brandon Scherff is even better at one more thing: pulling his own weight on the field.

The offensive tackle is considered one of the top returning Big Ten players and a reason Iowa is considered a team in contention for the conference's West Division title.

"We've had a lot of outstanding lineman over the last 15 years," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "And I think Brandon really embodies a lot of the best qualities of all those guys. Certainly he has some physical characteristics that are just highly unusual, quite frankly."

A former high school quarterback who moved to tight end and then became an offensive linemen in college certainly qualifies him as an athletic freak, which ESPN described him as in their athletic "freak list."

His weight room feats have made him legendary on campus and on the Internet.

After a morning breakfast of eggs, the 6-foot-5, 320-pounder said he wanted to achieve something new at the last "max-out" session of the offseason. Egged-on, so to speak, by strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, Scherff repeated three cleans of a personal-best 443 pounds.

The video went viral after Doyle posted it and has made Scherff a bit of a circus act.

"Some guy asked me to pick him up and put him over my head on TV," he said. "I declined that. People were texting me saying that's unreal and blah blah blah. I'm just trying to get better and that was the weight."

Scherff is nothing if not understated off the field. He enjoys time fishing with fellow linemen to feel like "a regular person."

He easily shrugged off the temptation to turn pro after his junior season -- in his case a realistic option -- to play for his home-state school one more season. He's predicted as a top-five NFL draft pick next year.

"In my mind I was always staying," he said. "I love playing college football. Why trade one year for that?"

Scherff is one of three returning linemen for the Hawkeyes, who have a loaded backfield led by Stevenson High School's Mark Weisman. Iowa also has a favorable schedule, which make the Hawkeyes primed to continue their revival from last season.

"Your goal is always the Big Ten championship," Scherff said, "and that's what we are setting our goal on."

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