Marshal Yanda laughs when people ask him where he'd like to go in this weekend's NFL Draft. Many prognosticators place him somewhere between the second and fourth rounds.
"It really doesn't matter to me," the former Iowa offensive lineman said. "I'm not one of those guys that was destined to play NFL Football. I went to JC (junior college).
"My dream always to play for the Hawkeyes. It never went beyond that. As long as I get to play in the NFL, I'll be excited whether it's the second, fourth, sixth round or free agent. This whole thing is 10 times more than I ever expected."
Yanda earned second-team all-Big Ten honors as a senior along with offensive MVP laurels from Iowa. He played two seasons at Iowa after two years at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City.
Many of the draft rankings list Yanda among the top five guards in the draft. Some of them list him among the tackles. He started at both with the Hawkeyes and in junior college.
"Pretty much all of the teams that I talk with mention my versatility as a strength," the 6-foo-4, 305-pound Anamosa native said. "It's an advantage. Some of the teams have asked if I've snapped and some told me to do that to add more into the equation."
Yanda approached the game in a business-like manner throughout his career and often it left him unnoticed by some viewers. He seemed likely to be an NFL player, but things turned up a notch when Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, known as an offensive line guru, began lauding the play of his senior.
"In every interview that I have, we start off by the coach telling me how much they admire Coach Ferentz and how much they respect his opinion," Yanda said. "I can't even begin to tell you how much Coach Ferentz has meant to my success. When he picks up the phone to compliment me to NFL coaches that means everything."
Yanda has been busy since the end of the season, participating in the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.
"The Senior Bowl was great," he said. "I got the chance to meet a lot of cool players. By the time the game ended, I felt like I had a good week of practice and showed a lot."
A minor knee injury suffered during the Senior Bowl kept Yanda from taking part in the physical work at the combine. He did conduct interviews with teams and felt like things went well. He had returned to 100 percent health by the event, but had missed training before it.
Yanda ran through drills at Iowa's Pro Day and was pleased with his numbers.
"Teams have told me that they like my aggressiveness and the physical play I bring to the game," he said. "I'm one of those guys that plays every down until the end and never misses a play because I'm banged up."
The knock against Yanda appears to be his size.
"I don't look at the mock drafts and those things, but my friends tell me that a lot of them think I'm too small to play guard," he said. "I know I need to bulk up, but I feel like I can compete at the next level. I have room to grow because I only spent two years with Coach (Chris) Doyle because I was at JC. One year with Coach Doyle means a lot."
One of the new trends in the NFL is agents telling their clients not to reveal what teams have taken them through individual workouts. As we learned last week, Scott Chandler is not releasing the clubs for which he has worked out.
Yanda said he's been getting a bunch of calls from teams in the last week asking him what other clubs have worked him out so they can gauge the interest level and attempt to calculate where they might be able to get a guy. Yanda has been referring them back to his agent.
Chandler told us that about five teams have taken him through individual workouts. Yanda put his number at about six.
"It's really been exciting to speak with all of the coaches," Yanda said. "I feel like I've interviewed well. I'm not really concerned with where I go or who I play for. If he's coaching in the NFL, he's got to be pretty good."
In the midst of all the football responsibilities, Yanda is finishing up his Health and Sports Studies degree this semester and anticipates graduating in May.
"It's been challenging, but the instructors have been great," he said. "Getting a degree is a priority for me and for the Iowa programs. I don't want to let the coaches down."
People have been asking Yanda if he's nervous but he says that he's more anxious for the draft to get here.
"I'm ready to find out where I'm going and put the pads on," he said. "It's been too long since I've had the pads on."
Yanda planned on going fishing during the draft to take his mind off the event, but thought better of it when he realized he probably wouldn't get cell phone service in his favorite spots near Anamosa.
"I'm just going to have some family over to my mom's and relax by the phone," Yanda said. "I don't think I'll watch the draft that much. That will drive me crazy."