Walk-ons Excel At Iowa

IOWA CITY, IA. – Three former University of Iowa football walk-ons were drafted in the first five rounds of the 2003 National Football League Draft. It's believed to be the first time that's ever happened at one NCAA school in the same year.

And, it reinforces the notion that the University of Iowa is one of the most walk-on friendly schools in college football. Tight end Dallas Clark (1st round), offensive lineman Bruce Nelson (2nd) and defensive back Derek Pagel (5th) all came to Iowa as a walk-on. All were put on scholarship at some point over the last five years. A number of NFL draft experts couldn't recall a team ever having three former walk-ons drafted so highly in one year.

Clark and Nelson were first-team all-Americans and Pagel was a second team all-Big Ten performer.

Two other former walk-ons have played a significant role in the team's success over the last few years. Linebacker Grant Steen and defensive back Scott Boleyn both played extensively last season. Steen started all 12 games while Boleyn started once behind all-Big Ten performer Bob Sanders.

"There's no question about the importance of walk-ons to this program," said Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz. "It's been that way since I first arrive on campus in 1981. The walk-ons at Iowa are very talented and always get a serious look and evaluation from our entire staff. Iowa's success in football, over the years, wouldn't have been nearly so impressive without the contributions of walk-ons.

"Some of our most important walk-ons are the ones you never hear or read about," said Ferentz. "They're the players that show up everyday for practice, for four or five years, and do everything in their power to make us a better team. Those are the athletes you've got to be really proud of. They're very special to me as a coach."


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