Blake Larsen: Living with High Expectations

Few topics stir up message board discussions more than Five-Star recruit Blake Larsen. The Iowa junior spoke with the media Tuesday and talked about living under the pressure of public scrutiny: "When I first got here, they were talking about me in the starting lineup on the opposite side of Gallery. What kind of pressure is that? That whole line...when I was a freshman is in the NFL. They're all making millions."

When do you think you're going to be able to get back on the field?

Maybe next week. Maybe the week after.

Is that frustrating having another injury?

Definitely, especially on the knee. It's kind of like (Brian Ferentz's) situation. It's not as bad, obviously. I'm not trying to compare those two. But it keeps going. You've just got to keep working through it.

Especially with the offensive line struggling the way that it is, this is probably your chance to come in and help?

Exactly. But good things come to those who wait. So, I'll just keep waiting. And I'll keep working hard.

How long do you have to be patient?

I don't know. You have to ask the man up stairs. I'm being patient. I'm just going to keep working to get better, I guess.

How many different injuries have you had?

I had both knees operated on a year ago. And then I've just had an ankle injury here and there and then this MCL. I've never really hurt my knee other than this one and those two operations. And those two operations, nothing was torn, it was just to go in and clean some stuff up. That's pretty much it.

Was this supposed to be your breakout year?

I thought that I had a good offseason. I don't know what you call breakout. If it was going to be breakout, I'd be playing every Saturday.

I meant starting every game.

I wish. But you still have a little bit of time. It's starting to run out, but we'll see.

You talked before about those expectations that people had when you committed. Kirk talked about that a little today. Can you go over that a little bit more, the high expectations?

Yeah. Those expectations that were put on me weren't wanted by me and my family. I don't even know if they were wanted by the coaching staff.

I think Coach Ferentz and his staff are pretty knowledgeable. They know what comes with that. I don't think that they like having their players with that kind of pressure.

It was fun at the time when you are in high school. You're a dumb kid. Once you get here, you realize that you're being critiqued by people outside of football. They read what you guys put or they read or they hear something that somebody says. You're being critiqued by those people that are at home right now and probably don't even know what's going on.

It's frustrating, but I've got a totally different view now than when I first got here. I'm a lot more laid back. I'm a more humble person. I think that it's helped me for the long run, actually.

When did you realize that that stuff was too much?

Freshman year. As soon as I got out of high school, I came here that summer and started working out. Working out, I thought that everything went good.

But you could tell that the guys that were here, and before that Iowa hadn't gone to bowls, but that year we were going to go to the Alamo Bowl. Guys on that team were strong and fast and you could kind of tell right then that I don't know if I warranted that (type of recruiting hype).

Do you stay away from message boards?

I haven't been on one since high school. My mom still goes on once in a while, and it still breaks her heart sometimes. I tell her, "Mom, it doesn't bother me. Its shouldn't bother you." She's gotten a lot better.

My dad, I don't think that he's ever touched a computer. Other than that, I don't. My Mom, once a month, maybe. But she's gotten a lot better.

The guys that come in with Bone Crusher, Big Human, do you feel bad for those guys? They're facing some stuff that they're probably not ready for.

Every time I think of one of those guys that's highly recruited...at least I didn't have a nickname (laughter).

But those two guys are great guys. My locker was right next to Kyle's, and Richard it just a great guy. But you have to feel sorry for them. I realize that I've got two years left. I think about someone like Kyle, he's coming with five years. I hope that he can live up to it, and come right in and do what he's supposed to do.

They talk about coming right in and starting off of a team that's (two years) removed from a Big Ten Championship and a great Outback Bowl win (last year). People are saying that he should start and stuff. I feel sorry for him. But gosh, if he could do it, that would be awesome.

What do you say to those fans out there who say things like bad things about the offensive line for example?

I'd say we're human. We have feelings, too. If they want to talk bad stuff, they can say what they want. But we're working. You watch film after the Arizona State game, for instance, there are so many little things, it's like we were so close to breaking a couple of big plays. It's just one block here, one block there that the film doesn't get to watch that film on Sunday.

I say to the fan that it will get done. Give us time. We're human on the line, too.

Will you live up to your expectations (of being a highly ranked recruit)?

I'm living up to them as a person. I'm a good person.

I hope (to live up to people's expectations). I don't think that I've lived up to them right now.

When I first got here, they were talking about me in the starting lineup on the opposite side of Gallery. What kind of pressure is that? That whole line that Gallery played with when I was a freshman is in the NFL. They're all making millions (laughter). They're going to tell a kid that can't even drink a beer that he's supposed to be in the NFL (laughter).

You know, I've got two years left to do what I can do and help this team win, and that's all I care about.

Did you ever start believing (the hype) early?

When you first hear it, you start believing it. My parents brought me back down to earth.

Once I got to college, I didn't believe any of it. Once I got to college, I was prepared. When you're in high school, and you hear that for the first time, you're dumb and you believe that stuff.

Eventually you learn that it's just people talking. It's people trying to sell a magazine or whatever they're selling. You hope that you can live up to what they say, but it doesn't always happen.

What do you have to do the next two years to get to the field?

I just need to be more consistent. There are times where I'll have a great block, and the next play I'll come back and have a missed assignment. That's a big thing.

Last year, I was still learning the offense. I've got it pretty down. I'm confident to go out there with the offense. The coaches need to see that I'm more consistent.

Coach Ferentz, and rightfully so, he wants a guy out there that's going to consistent play in and play out. You don't have top make a spectacular play. Be consistent and play 100 percent.

Are you on course to graduate on time?

Yes sir. Mom doesn't let those slip (laughter). With my parents both being teachers, I don't have a chance to let that slip.

I wasn't the brightest out of high school, but got myself of study center and maintained a pretty good GPA.

What would be the perfect ending for you here?

A degree and a national championship. I don't care about individual things. if I wanted to sit here and tell you all-American or all-Big ten, I could.

A great ending for me would be for me and the class that I came in with to all graduate and win a national title for the fans and the coaches and everybody.


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