Prior to last year, McMahon's name was thrown around as being a possible star in the making for the Hawkeyes. After watching the 2003 season, those projections were realized, as McMahon was probably the second best lineman on the team behind All World left tackle Robert Gallery.
Now it's 2004, and McMahon looks around and suddenly finds himself as the lone senior in the offensive trenches.
We spoke with McMahon on signing day about leadership, expectations and much more.
You remember the lean years at Iowa, and now things have changed. You are ranked, you have been to some big bowl games, etc. Are their noticeable differences on how you prepare for this season based on expectations?
There are a lot of expectations that we have, but the coaching staff and the players are trying to forget about that stuff and just go back to when we were picked to finish last in the Big Ten. The coaches are trying to take us back to that mindset and stay hungry; stay hungry like we were. That is our focus.
How do you do that?
You just have to keep reminding yourself where we came from. Keep reminding the young guys that know Iowa as going to a bowl every year, keep reminding them that that is not how it always was.
How do the younger guys respond to that? Like, ‘Here we go again, grandpa Pete and his tales of woe'?
(laughs) I think they respond to it well. Many of the guys are from Iowa, and they know how it was when we were losing. They know that if we don't work hard and perform the way we need to, we will go back to where we were. We don't want to go back there. We still want to go to bowls and they know that if we don't work hard, we won't do it. So the guys are ready to do it.
Coming into this camp compared to previous camps, does the hunger still seem to be here?
Yes, I feel like it is. It's a different hunger. This year we have a lot of younger guys that have an opportunity to play a lot. So they are hungry to play. They are competing against each other. That is great, and you have to have that.
Do you feel any sense of added burden from the fans who are not going to put up with the Motor City Bowl? A little bit, but I try to let that go. I am here to do what I am going to do. Everyone else is here to play their best. We are all just trying to give the best effort. If we do that, it's going to turn out good in the end.
Talk about coach Doyle and how he tries to keep the training aspect of football as fun as it can be.
Yes it is. This summer, we did a lot of competitive things, and we did a lot of body weight for max squat, and you are competing against each other. After a workout, we might pull a sled with 600-pounds on it. It's pretty fun to do those things. It keeps you out of the boring routine and it's fun to compete with other guys.
Now that Robert Gallery is gone, you are the senior. Silent Rage is a nickname from your younger years at Iowa, but do you feel like you can be that vocal leader on the line like Robert was, and if need be, get in someone's face?
I feel like I can. I know that if there is a situation where they guys need some, say extra motivation, I can do that. I want to do that, because if that is what is good for the team, that is what I will do.
Do you get the sense that your teammates might not need that, because you are all focusing on getting back to the big bowl and compete for the Big Ten title?
Everybody is focused on the same goals, but there are always times when people look to the seniors for leadership, no matter how good you are. When we won the Big Ten in 2002, I looked up to the older guys. That is just the way that it is.
Did Robert leave you with any words of wisdom?
Nothing other than if you work hard, great things will happen. They did for him. There will be some added pressure this year on the NFL side of things, but I am just going to take it and go with it.