For some seniors at the University of Iowa, this Friday will be the final time they come out of the tunnel to “Back in Black.” They’ll hear the roaring Hawkeyes fans at Kinnick Stadium cheering them on before they take on Nebraska. Thirty minutes before the game, the 27 seniors will have a chance to see their families at midfield.
Senior offensive lineman Jack Plumb said he got emotional during his high school senior day, and he expects to experience a similar range of emotions.
“Iowa football has been my home for the last five years,” Plumb said. “It was a big part of my life. I think it’ll be pretty emotional, and it’ll be interesting.”
Perhaps nobody has had more of a rollercoaster experience than quarterback Spencer Petras. From facing mass scrutiny, to being benched and having to field questions about the offense’s performance seemingly every week. He took some time on Tuesday to reflect on what he learned serving as the starting quarterback of the Iowa Hawkeyes for the past three seasons.
“I think I’ve learned quite a bit about mental toughness and resilience, not getting too high, not getting too low,” Petras said. “From a leadership standpoint there’s naturally going to be some leadership responsibilities for the quarterback and I think that’s something that I’ll be able to carry with me the rest of my life.”
For team captain Jack Campbell, it’s about celebrating a career’s worth of blood, sweat and tears.
“It’s going to mean everything to me,” Campbell said. “My last four years, my hard work and dedication. But also my teammates hard work and dedication all leads up to that moment. Getting to walk out and see my parents who have been so supportive of me through my whole entire life along with the sacrifices they’ve made.”
A number of seniors can redeem an extra year of eligibility due to the 2020-2021 season being impacted by COVID-19. Head coach Kirk Ferentz knows that the program and players will eventually determine who returns, and who moves on. But he wants his players to enjoy the moment, regardless of whether they return or not.
“As far as I know, there’s no NCAA rule yet about if you walk, you’re ineligible from there on. As long as we don’t give them a thousand bucks on the way out,” Ferentz joked. “They can always change their mind. If they have second thoughts, it would definitely be worth a consideration. We’ll have a couple of those down the road, but right now — go and be honored. Who knows, next year we might have a pandemic again. I shouldn’t joke about that at all, it’s not funny.”