Four days before their annual rivalry game against Iowa State, the Iowa football program lost one of its own in safety Tyler Sash. He was one of the best safeties in Hawkeye history, played under head coach Kirk Ferentz and defensive coordinator Phil Parker, and was beloved by everyone around the program, including the fan base.
The tragedy riled up a lot of emotions before the Battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. In fact, Sash left quite a legacy of his own with three interceptions in his final game against the Cyclones in a season that ended with an Orange Bowl victory.
Current players never had the opportunity to play with Sash, but they were well aware of the importance and accolades he had on the Iowa football program, and they knew how much he meant to the community, the coaches, the fans, and the state of Iowa.
Tight end Henry Krieger-Coble is a native of Iowa and knows the imprint that Sash left on the state and the Hawkeyes.
"It's just a hard thing, hard to believe he passed away," he said. "For an Iowa kid, that's as good as it gets. He was one of the best defensive players. (He was) obviously one of the best safeties in our program's history. For him to pass, it's really sad. He'll be sorely missed. Just growing up watching him was unbelievable. He was a heck of a player.
Star cornerback Desmond King is from Michigan but was well aware of the impact Sash had for Iowa, and even spoke to him a few days before the news hit on Tuesday.
"It was a very emotional week for all of us," King shared. "The whole defense. Knowing we lost a soldier on our side. Playing for him. This game was for him. We played for Tyler.
"I talked to him that weekend before," the Iowa defensive back added. "It was very sad news once I heard about it in class. My head wasn't focused. I had to get back focused for the game. I knew he would want us to win this game for him. To know he's in a better place now, that trophy that we have is for him. We played for Tyler."
Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the family and friends of Tyler Sash, as well as the Iowa Hawkeyes football community as they continue to mourn the loss of their loved one.