Robert Gallery might be the one player on the team that needs no introduction, but we will do it anyway.
Gallery has been the poster child for Chris Doyle's strength and conditioning program in addition to being a great example of versatility. He started his Iowa career at tight end in 2000, but moved to right tackle prior to Iowa's game against Indiana and started the final six games of that season at right tackle.
He moved to left tackle in 2001 and has started 25 straight games at that position for the Hawkeyes. He was named all Big Ten after last season and has been academic all Big Ten the past two seasons.
He is a pre-season first team all-American by The Sporting News and Playboy and was named to the pre-season Lombardi Award watch list. The Big Ten Conference forgot to add his name to the Outland Watch list, something which irritated the normally stoic Kirk Ferentz, but it really won't matter much.
If Gallery has the kind of year that everyone anticipates, he could become Iowa's third Outland winner, joining Cal Jones and Alex Karras as the finest interior linemen in all of college football.
One of the NFL's two official scouting services rates him as the best offensive lineman in college football heading into 2003.
The man they call ‘The Mountain' wasn't always so big. He came to Iowa in the 240-pound range and is now listed at 6-feet-7, 320-pounds. He made himself available to us at media day for the following Q & A.
HTO: Being as big as you are, do people clear a path for you downtown? (laughs)
RG: "Not usually, I don't go out that much. I try to stay away from those things. With the free time that we do have, I try to sit back and enjoy it."
HTO: Is it going to be lonely this year, not having Steinbach, Nelson, Porter, Sobieski and Lightfoot alongside you for the first time in three years?
RG: "No, the other guys on the line are great. We graduated a lot of great guys but we have some solid guys coming back. I am excited to play with the new guys, excited to play with a new quarterback and everyone. I am looking forward to seeing these new guys step in and help the team win just like the group from last year did."
HTO: You had a chance to make some of those same dollars on Draft day as some of your teammates are now getting, had you elected to turn pro. How did you feel on draft day and do you regret not turning pro at all?
RG: "It was great to see the other guys get the opportunities that they have and see their hard work pay off. They will do great things in the NFL. That is something I could have done, but I chose to stay and I am really looking forward to this season and playing with this team and to be a Hawkeye for another year."
"There are things that I need to work on individually to be successful, just as there are things the other guys need to work on in order for us to be successful again."
HTO: How long do you feel it will take for this new group to mesh?
RG: "We are going to work on that in camp. I think we will progress during the year and it is something we need, but I see it already. Guys are working hard, knowing that you can count on the guy beside you to be there for you, knowing how he plays and that he will have your back if something goes wrong."
"Quite frankly, I am tired of talking about how I am the only guy coming back and that the line is a question mark."
"We played together for so long (the players on last year's line) because we weren't very good when we started out and there were no other options than for a bunch of skinny young kids to have to play together. We are at a championship level now. There are guys that have been there, that know what they are doing because they have played. The faces might be new to some, but these guys know what they are doing, it's no different."
HTO: How much does it help to have an offensive line minded head coach?
RG: "He is a man you like to have in your corner. He is known around the NFL for his work with offensive lines. All of the coaches are assets and they do a great job and they are excited about this year. We get some extra help from coach Ferentz every now and then, but (offensive line) coach (Reese) Morgan is doing a great job with us."
Does it motivate you that many of the experts have picked you to finish in the lower division of the Big Ten this year?
RG: "I think our motivation takes place before that. Just like last year, we are going in eighth and we will see where we end up at the end of the year. No one is giving us a shot. That is great. We will prepare like we did last year and go out and do the things we have to do to win.
"The experts can say what they want, but we come in and work hard each and every day and do the work to be a good team. We have put in the time and we deserved the success we have had the last couple of years, bringing the program back to a championship level. This year's team has not done anything different. We have had some of our best work, this last spring and this summer, since I have been here. It will be interesting to look back at the end of the year and see how things work out."
HTO: You are the ‘old man' in camp this year. Do you get a chance to mentor the younger linemen?
RG: "Camp is a great time for that, to let the third or fourth string guys get more reps than they normally get during the season. I have time to give them the pointers, because there is more time in practice. It's good to give those guys some pointers now, because when you are young you don't really know what is going on. I had help when I was young so I can pass along what I was taught."
HTO: What is more difficult for you: practicing against your teammates or the actual games?
RG: " I don't worry about Saturdays. I go against Howard (Hodges) and Matt (Roth) each day in practice. That is great work for me and I don't have to worry about who I will see down the road. I just worry about the day that we are on and those guys help me in my progress. We have a lot of guys that can prepare us for games on the other side of the ball and that is great for this team.