Bouncing Back

Iowa DL Jonathan Babineaux is a man of few words. HN.com did get the Texas native to open up a little at the Big Ten Media Meetings in Chicago this week. He talked about coming back from last year's broken leg suffered at Ohio State, his thoughts on the NFL, his latest 40 time, and much more in this premium Q&A.

How is your health? Are you back to where you were before the latest injury?

I'm very healthy. My strength is way over the season before I got hurt. I think that I'm better and stronger now at this point.

Have you questioned at all why these injuries have happened to you?

It's just all part of the game. Injuries are going to happen, but you've got to just keep pushing though it. The good thing is that I'm still here playing coming into my senior year.

What exactly happened at Ohio State?

One of their offensive linemen fell on my leg. It just snapped on me.

What's going through your mind at that point?

"Not again."

Was it the same leg (as the one you broke before)?

Yeah. It was the same leg. It was mainly in my leg. Everyone thought that it was my knee, but it was like the fibia bone in my leg.

Could you have played in the bowl game?

Yeah. But I didn't want to take any chances risking to get injured again and miss this spring. So, it was smart to wait until the spring and get me back in the rotation again.

How do you deal with that when it happens again? Is it hard not to get down?

I try to still be there for my teammates to let them know that I'm still all right and I'm still by their side no matter what.

Did you know right away when it happened?

Yeah. After a couple of breaks, you know how it sounds. So, I kind of knew right away.

Do you guys on the defensive line have anything in common as people?

We just get along with each other. We click real well. Off the field, we do things together; going out and things like that.

What kind of things do you guys do together?

Everything from swimming to going down to the bars.

What does each guy bring to the defensive line?

Matt (Roth) brings a quickness and aggressiveness. Tyler (Luebke) is more like a strong, pound-for-pound guy. I'm more of a pound-for-pound guy. Derreck is more like someone that can do whatever at certain times during a course of a game.

Was it a conscious thing to get away from the big, run stuffer guys and go to more athletic guys?

I really don't think it matters how much you weigh. As long as you're aggressive and getting the job done, it doesn't matter what size you are. It just coms from Coach Aiken being a good coach and Coach Doyle getting us ready in the weight room, really.

What do expect out of yourself this season?

Just a lot of leadership and playing at the top every game.

You're a man of few words, what's your leadership role? How do you lead?

With the younger guys on the team, I'm more talkative. This summer, I talked to a couple of guys I worked with, a lot of the younger guys about things that they needed to work on. I think that it was a good thing. I think that all of the players respect me as their leader.

Have you run a 40 recently?

Yeah. We ran the 40 in May when the scouts came down. I think that they clocked me at a 4.72.

Do you feel like you can improve on that?

Yeah. I feel like I'm faster than ever after having had this injury. That's a good thing. Coach Doyle really helped me get back on my feet. That was a big part of it, me getting stronger and faster.

Do you feel like you're on the radar for NFL scouts after being out of their eyes for much of last season?

I'll just let them come into play. I'm really not to worried about that right now. I'll just see how things go during the season. At the end of the season, I'll see where I'm at.

You guys were in a similar position last year with an inexperienced O-line and quarterback. Do you feel added pressure as a defense being as you guys are the veterans?

I feel like we had that two years ago when we won the Big Ten when we were young on the defense and they were more experienced on the offense. We've just got to go out there and motivate and get things going. I think other players feed off your intensity being high. I'm pretty sure their (intensity) on the other side (of the line) is going to be all right, too.

Is it weird not having Bob (Sanders) out there anymore?

(Laughs) Yeah. It's kind of funny that he's not out there. He's a great player. But Marcus Pashal, I think he's going to be a good guy to fill his shoes.

Are you in position to graduate at this point?

Yeah. I'll graduate in May.

What will your degree be in?

I'll have a major in African-American Studies and a minor in Health and Leisure.

If things don't work out for you in pro football, do you have a career direction that you think about?

Coaching. I've always been in the coaching thing. Whenever that career ends, I think I'm going into coaching.

Is there a level that you're interested in?

I haven't decided which level I'm going to go through. It might be a little different on each level.

Coach Ferentz had a lot of great players from which to choose to bring to the Big Ten Media Day. What does it say to you that he chose you?

He looks at me as a team captain. And he wants all of the other guys to see me as a team captain and a leader of this team. And he wants to bring forth the best out of me for this team.

With the changes on your offense, do you think it's going to be able to keep going like it has over the passed couple of years?

I think it's going to keep on going like it has been. I don't see any changes in the offense. I just think the young guys have to do what they're going to do in there.

Is it the general faith on this team that that is what will happen?

That's how it's always been since I've been here. It's the next man in. Ever since Coach Ferentz got here, that second year things started falling into place. I think it's just going to keep going each year.

Can you talk about your recruitment a little bit?

North Texas (was the only other school to offer).

How did Iowa open your eyes?

Coach Jackson recruited me. He was my offensive coordinator my junior year (in high school) before he came up to Iowa. He came down and recruited me. I took a visit. I kind of liked how the program was going even though it was starting out. I felt like it would be on the rise within a couple of years.

What was North Texas recruiting you as?

A linebacker.

How did your switch to defensive line work out?

Coach Ferentz and Coach Jackson talked to me about it at the end of my freshman year. They knew that I was going to become bigger and my weight was going to be up. They asked me of I wanted to move to the D-line. I told them whatever you think is best for me.

At fullback, you get a chance to run with the football, maybe score a touchdown. The defensive line is a whole different world.

Yeah. But you get to hit the guys more than you can on offense.


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