We continue our Iowa Hawkeye Spring Practice coverage with one of the more glaring storylines in the offseason in the entire country.
Defensive lineman Drew Ott has had pro football scouts clamoring for the Nebraska native’s strength and football instincts. But his senior season at Iowa was cut short by a torn ACL in Iowa’s sixth game of the year against Illinois.
Ott has since appealed for an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA for a medical hardship. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz says there are encouraging precedents in recent history.
“We’ve had some encouraging news from some other cases, a basketball player from Temple had a case similar to Drew’s,” Ferentz explained. “Just learned actually yesterday about Case Keenum who is playing for the Rams right now, when he was at Houston he actually got a sixth year, redshirted one year, played three and then was injured in his fifth year and got a sixth year.”
The rules for the NCAA state that in order to receive an extra year of eligibility due to injury, the player in question cannot have appeared in 30% of the team’s games and cannot have played past the midway point of the season.
Ott played in six games, but participated in four games with a dislocated elbow that drastically decreased his time on the field.
While it remains to be seen what the NCAA will decide in Ott’s case, Ferentz knows that he’ll be ready either to rejoin Iowa’s camp or get ready for the NFL Draft.
“I think he’ll be ready in camp, be ready this summer,” says Ferentz. “He’s working at it really hard. For him the toughest part is not knowing. It’s like anything in life, if you don’t know where you’re going and what the future is, that’s always a tough thing to deal with.”
Ferentz also commented on how the injury and his unknown collegiate status has affected Ott’s draft stock.
“So the question they have, do we use a draft pick?” Ferentz explained. “Do we try to get him as a free agent, that type of thing? I think he’s a great investment. A heck of a football player and heck of a leader. If we get him back, that would add current leadership as well as a really good football player. But it could go either way, and we’re going to wish him well no matter what happens here.”
Ferentz and Ott both are hoping to hear the NCAA’s ruling soon for multiple reasons. The Iowa coach knows that time is running out for Ott to control his decision with the NFL Draft approaching.
“The clock is kind of ticking a little bit too because the NFL people are at some point going to make a move too,” Ferentz stated. “I would imagine they’d want to bring him in for physicals and those types of things. He got checked at the combine. He got an exemption for that. So that gave him a baseline. But if they’re going to ask a guy to join their team, they’re going to want to know where he is physically. We’re still probably a couple weeks away, but clock is running right now.”
Ott has said if the NCAA doesn’t give their ruling in the next two weeks, he will put his focus on the NFL Draft, which begins in Chicago on April 28.
We will have continuing coverage of the Drew Ott Saga, as well as Iowa Football Spring Practice right here on the Mahaska Zone Network throughout the next few weeks. You can also check out information on our website at radiokmzn.com and on our Facebook page “Mahaska Zone Network.”