Darian Cotton a future Hawkeye?

June 2, 2009

Just emptying my notebook after state track about 10 days ago …

Darian Cotton rushed for 851 yards and six touchdowns last year as a sophomore for Mount Pleasant. He also caught 15 passes and scored on an interception return. Not too bad for a player competing in a secondary role.

Darian’s older brother, Jordan, will play football at Iowa this fall. Their father, Marshall, played at Iowa from 1984-87. It’s no secret that Darian Cotton would like to follow the family legacy up Highway 218 and join the Hawkeyes in two years.

“Iowa has been like giving me different recruiting things, like asking me to go to their camps,” said Darian, who was competing at the Class 3A state track meet in Des Moines last month. “I was offered to go to their spring game to watch, and I like that a lot.

“HopefullyI get to play there.”

Some observers say Darian has more potential than his brother, but that’s debatable. Jordan Cotton rushed for 1,548 yards and 25 touchdowns last year for Mount Pleasant and will play wide receiver at Iowa.

Darian Cotton finished sixth in the Class 3A long jump last month in Des Moines. The brothers are very close, as demonstrated at the state track meet. Jordan Cotton was injured at the state track meet in May and did not participate after the first day.


Keenan Davis to challenge for starting spot at Iowa?

May 26, 2009
Keenan Davis (left) and Ronnie Henderson, both of Cedar Rapids Washington, compete in the 100-meter dash finals during the 23rd annual Warrior Wilkinson Relays at Thomas Park in Marion on May 1, 2009. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Keenan Davis (left) and Ronnie Henderson, both of Cedar Rapids Washington, compete in the 100-meter dash finals during the 23rd annual Warrior Wilkinson Relays at Thomas Park in Marion on May 1, 2009. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Keenan Davis sang the Cedar Rapids Washington fight song, wrapped himself in the Class 4A state championship flag and lifted track teammate Lewi Manirumva into the air moments before Washington was announced as the state’s best track team last Saturday in Des Moines.

Davis paced Washington to victory in the 4×200-meter relay and top five finishes in the 4×100 and the distance medley relay. It was a crowning moment to a brilliant high school career for Davis.

Now, it’s on to bigger and more high-profile events for Davis at the University of Iowa. It’s possible he’ll challenge to get on the football field this fall. In two weeks, he’ll head to Iowa’s summer training program and take his physical. Davis plans to stay in Iowa City through the summer to train and lift. The summer program begins June 8.

Cedar Rapids Washington wide receiver Keenan Davis pulls in a pass over Ross Siemering of Cedar Rapids Prairie during the first half at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 12, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids Washington wide receiver Keenan Davis pulls in a pass over Ross Siemering of Cedar Rapids Prairie during the first half at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 12, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Davis, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs more than 200 pounds, caught 133 passes for 2,017 yards and 18 touchdowns the last two years at Washington. He was a two-time all-state wide receiver.

Davis also helped Washington’s basketball team reach the Class 4A substate finals and led the Warriors in scoring with 14.2 points a game.

“I’m going to try my hardest to be a leader and be out there and do what I have to do and be the player I can be,” Davis said.

It’s possible Davis could wind up starting for Iowa at wide receiver, based on Iowa’s recent track record at the position. In 2006, Iowa started true freshman Dominique Douglas at wide receiver. In 2007, red-shirt freshman James Cleveland started every game at the position. Both players have left Iowa followinare with Iowa right now.

Iowa returns three players with extensive experience at wide receiver, including past starters Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Trey Stross, key contributors Colin Sandeman and Paul Chaney Jr., and former quarterback Marvin McNutt. Stross and McNutt are listed as the starters following spring practice.

“I feel like if I compete and do everything right and do everything the way I’m supposed to do, yeah, I can get on the field,” Davis said. “But there are other people competing for that spot and if they compete better than me and do what they have to do, then they’ll be on the field. It’s just a toss-up.”


Future Hawkeye Drew Clark destroys 3A shot put record

May 22, 2009
Marion senior Drew Clark concentrates as he makes his record-breaking throw of 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches during the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Marion senior Drew Clark concentrates as he makes his record-breaking throw of 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches during the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Marion senior Drew Clark’s only competition tonight was against himself.

And he still won.

Clark destroyed the shot put field with every throw at the Class 3A state meet. But it was his second toss that vaulted him from state champion to state legend.

Clark heaved the shot 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches, nearly two feet farther than the 32-year-old Class 3A record. It was the fourth-best throw in state history and the 11th-best throw nationally this year.

Defending champion Brandon Scherff of Denison-Schleswig finished second with a throw of 57-3 1/2, more than 7-4 shorter than Clark’s best toss.

“Actually the state title has been elusive to me the last two years,” Clark said. “When I was a sophomore, I had my best throw I had that year, and I ended up getting second. And last year, Brandon Scherff got me on his last throw. I kind of struggled that day — the tensing up got me on that — so I just wanted to stay loose.”

Clark warmed up at West Des Moines Valley High School on Thursday. He stayed loose by singing to himself. He felt good entering Friday’s competition.

“Shoulder separation is like the main thing that gets guys hurt at state, tensing up,” he said. “My first warm-up throw I could tell it was going to be a good day. My forearm was kind of tight and that helps me out a lot. That way you can get the snap off your fingers.”

Clark took a low-key approach to his first throw, and hit 61-6 1/2.

“I knew it was going to be big next because he takes a safe throw his first throw just to make sure he’s in,” said Drew’s father, Chuck, who’s in his 25th season at Marion’s throwing coach. “So I knew big things were coming.”

With a solid throw in early, Clark unleashed his second effort. His approach was intense. He shouted as his released the shot. Event officials conferred and marked the spot twice just to ensure it was a record.

“I think my dad was the first one that knew,” Clark said. “He threw his hands up.

“The first throw I always like to take it easy and get one in. And so I crank it up with the second throw.”

Clark didn’t taper off as the event progressed. He hit 60 feet in each of his three throws in the finals. His last toss of 63-7 would have set the state record by nearly 10 inches.

He impressed his competitors as well. Among the finalists include future Iowa football teammate and roommate Brett Van Sloten of Decorah and future Iowa basketball player Brennan Cougill, who finished fifth.

“Geez, that’s an accomplishment,” said Van Sloten who finished third. “I feel so good for him. If another man can win, I’d love to see him win it. He’s such a nice guy. Sixty-four, that’s incredible.”

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Vinton-Shellsburg’s 4×200 relay team finished third in 1 minute, 30.56 seconds, just .04 seconds out of second place. Anchor runner Trevor  Walker started the final 200 in third place.

“After the corner, we were first,” said Walker, a senior. “Then it was just tight as possible at the end.”

In other 3A events, Washington senior Casey Negrete finished third in the 400 hurdles in 55.06 seconds. Waukon’s distance medley relay team finished fourth in 3:36.03.


Class 3A: Future Hawkeye Clark wins discus

May 21, 2009
Marion's Drew Clark makes a toss during the 3A Boys Discus event at the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Thursday, May 21, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Clark won the event with a throw of 161 feet, 1 inch. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Marion's Drew Clark makes a toss during the 3A Boys Discus event at the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Thursday, May 21, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Clark won the event with a throw of 161 feet, 1 inch. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Marion senior Drew Clark only needed one launch to cement his name forever into the Class 3A record books.

Clark, who will attend Iowa on a football scholarship, won the discus on his first throw, a heave of 161 feet, 1 inch tonight at Drake Stadium. Clark held off several challengers late in the event to claim the state title.

“That’s probably been the most consistent I’ve been, this week and the week before,” Clark said. “I’m hitting around 160 every meet.

“I know there’s a lot of guys out there that can throw farther, and I was hoping to get a new personal record at this meet, but it didn’t happen. But the win feels great.”

Clark competed against future Iowa teammate — and future roommate — Decorah senior Brett Van Sloten in the event. Van Sloten was ill this week and finished 12th in the event. Clark will go for his second state title Friday, this time in the shot put.

Waukon senior Brett Egan trailed Winterset’s Evan Selsor by nearly 10 meters with 300 left in the 3,200. Egan then kicked his stride into overdrive, briefly overtook Selsor with about 100 meters to go before falling short. Selsor won a dead sprint with Egan — and the event — in 9 minutes, 23.22 seconds, .31 faster than Egan.

“I really wanted to go for a state championship in my last year,” said Egan, who will run at Northern Iowa next year. “He’s an amazing runner. I guess if you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”

“I was blocking out the pain and just looking at the finish line the whole time.”

Selsor, a sophomore, was sick and didn’t compete for most of the season.

“(Egan) passed me right around the last corner and I was just thinking, ‘I’m going to try to stick with him as long as I can,'” Selsor said. “He doesn’t have a great kick, but he’s got more guts than anyone else in this race. When he hits top speed, he can really move.”

Egan also helped the Waukon to a fourth-place finish in the 4×800 relay.

Anamosa senior Jason Breon finished second in the high jump, leaping 6-4. DeWitt Central’s Weston Ketelsen won the event at 6-6.

Click here for first-day results


Big Ten officials to assess bowl lineup

May 17, 2009
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz answers questions from the media during a press conference December 29, 2006 in San Antonio. Iowa and Texas played in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz answers questions from the media during a press conference December 29, 2006 in San Antonio. Iowa and Texas played in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

CHICAGO — The Big Ten’s future bowl lineup could receive a radical — or reserved — makeover this week when league officials, administrators and football coaches conduct their annual meetings.

Five of the league’s seven contracted bowls are up for renewal following the 2009 season. League officials plan to discuss each bowl this week, and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the league will “explore the (bowl) landscape.”

“We keep in touch with our incumbents,” Delany said. “We really can’t engage in negotiations with others normally under most of the agreements until we engage in good faith negotiations with the incumbents. We can look around, chit chat, find out if there are others that might be interested, but we can’t engage in any sort of serious discussion on business issues until we go through the process with our own.”

The Big Ten has agreements with the Rose Bowl and the Insight Bowl (Phoenix area) until 2013. Bowls up for renewal after the 2009 season include the Capital One and Champs Sports (Orlando, Fla.), Outback (Tampa, Fla.), Alamo (San Antonio) and Motor City (Detroit). The Big Ten’s champion automatically qualifies for the Bowl Championship Series, which includes the Rose Bowl. The league’s runner-up — if it does not qualify for a second BCS bowl — is designated for the Capital One Bowl. The Outback Bowl receives the third team, followed by either the Alamo Bowl or Champs Sports Bowl, then the Insight and Motor City bowls. Last year’s bowls totaled nearly $35 million in revenue for league schools.

The Big Ten last renegotiated bowl contracts in 2005 when it added the Champs and Insight bowls and dropped the Music City (Nashville, Tenn.) and Sun (El Paso, Texas) from its bowl lineup. Delany said at the time the league wanted to add destinations that cater to alumni, many of whom live in Arizona and Florida.

“I have to say we love our alignment,” Delany said. “It’s been good to us. We’ve adjusted from time to time, and even when we’ve adjusted in the past it’s always difficult.

“We never really had a bad bowl relationship. It’s just whether or not find better ones, whether you can improve your lot.”

The Big Ten became one of the first leagues to secure a tie-in for a non-champion when it sent its runner-up to the Holiday Bowl in 1986. The league ended that agreement in 1994, the same year it secured Capital One and Outback bowl agreements. The league began its relationship with the Alamo Bowl one year later.

The league’s contract with the Capital One Bowl earns the league nearly $4.25 million, the top payout among non-BCS bowl games. But Orlando’s 73-year-old stadium’s potential $175 million renovation has stalled, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  The paper reports a slowdown in tourism taxes have placed the project on that community’s back shelf for possibly 10 more years. The Champs Bowl also is played at the same stadium.

“The first thing the commissioners told me was ‘I thought you guys had approved renovation of the stadium. I don’t think you guys realize how important this is for us,'” Florida Citrus Sports chief executive officer Steve Hogan told the paper. ” … I didn’t expect to be shocked as I was about how pointed and concerned our existing sponsors are right now.”

 “We’ve been watching it for a long time,” Delany said. “We’ve been encouraging the city, the bowl, the Florida Citrus Association just to make progress, to move forward, because anybody that follows the college game, whether it’s in urban areas or on campus, facilities have been improving over the last 10, 15, 20 years. We’ve been encouraging that. That will be a factor. How big a factor? It’s to be determined.”

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Delany: Schools with Big Ten interest ‘didn’t inquire to make an announcement’

May 15, 2009
Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner

Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said he’s had schools inquire about possibly joining the Big Ten Conference, only he won’t say which ones.

“I wouldn’t comment on that,” Delany said about which schools might have approached him interested in expansion. “If they do, they do. If they don’t, they don’t. But certainly they didn’t inquire to make an announcement.”

The Big Ten expanded to 11 schools in 1990 when Penn State joined the league. Notre Dame rejected an offer to join the Big Ten in 1999.

Speculation has swirled for years concerning the Big Ten and potential expansion. The schools mentioned the most often as possible candidates include Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers and Missouri. Expansion would allow the league to become eligible for an annual football championship game, which often nets millions of dollars for conferences and their schools.

Recently, two Big Ten football coaches have spoken favorably about league expansion. Penn State Coach Joe Paterno wants the league to expand because “we go into hiding for six weeks.”

“Everybody else is playing playoffs on television,” Paterno told ESPN.com. “You never see a Big Ten team mentioned. So I think that’s a handicap.

“I’ve tried to talk to the Big Ten people about, ‘Let’s get a 12th team — Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt — we could have a little bit of a playoff.'”

Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema, a former Iowa captain, also welcomed the idea of league expansion.

“It’d be great,” Bielema told ESPN.com. “Everybody would welcome a 12th team in the league and maybe having a championship game.”

As for Delany, he said the league does discuss expansion and it’s a likely topic next week during the league’s football coaches and athletics directors meetings. But it’s unlikely the league will expand anytime soon.

“It’s a back-burner issue for a long time, but it’s not to say that it doesn’t get discussed,” Delany said. “It’s just a back-burner discussion, because I don’t know how else to say it other than periodically.

“We’ve  spoken with two institutions, in one case Penn State, and it resulted in an expansion; another with Notre Dame and it did not result in an expansion. We haven’t felt the need to move it off the back-burner since that time (1999), although it gets discussed — the pros and cons internally — from time to time.”


Ferentz contract not finalized, ‘no decision’ on son’s status

May 13, 2009
University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz talks about the design of the brace that quarterback Drew Tate has been fitted with to protect his injured left hand at his weekly press conference Tuesday, October 31, 2006 in Iowa City. Ferentz said expected Tate to start Saturday's game unless something unexpected developed in practice this week.

University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz talks about the design of the brace that quarterback Drew Tate has been fitted with to protect his injured left hand at his weekly press conference, October 31, 2006 in Iowa City.

Iowa and football coach Kirk Ferentz have yet to finalize the seven-year contract extension that was announced three months ago.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said he and Ferentz have spoken about the contract recently, and there’s no concern that the deal might fall through.

“The honest answer is when he was going through recruiting, we really just set it aside,” Barta said. “We talked about it a couple of times over the last several weeks. It’s one of those things, we already know we’re going to do it, we’ve already agreed in principle on what we’re going to do, we just haven’t committed it to a contract.

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