Sapp's New Home

The University of Northern Iowa football team is one player stronger today with the announcement by UNI Director of Athletics Rick Hartzell that junior defensive back Benny Sapp (Fort Lauderdale, FL) has transferred to UNI from the University of Iowa.

Sapp was dismissed from the Iowa football team Aug. 7 after being charged with public intoxication and two other offenses.  Sapp considered transferring to several other institutions before deciding on playing for UNI.  He met with Hartzell and UNI head coach Mark Farley early in the process and then met with the Panthers' senior players, who, along with Harzell and Farley, signed off on Sapp coming to play at UNI.

"It's been a long and on-going process to get to this point," Hartzell said.  "We put some pretty serious restrictions on Benny, we stated some criteria which he needs to follow, he's passed every test, he's met with Mark and myself, and then all the assistant coaches.  He met with our seniors.  We talked to the team about his transfer.  We cleared every hurdle, and Benny has passed every test.

 "Our feeling about his transfer is that this is a young guy that means well, a young guy that deserves a second chance, a young guy that can come to UNI and receive a good education, but who also can straighten himself out and move ahead," Hartzell added.  "Everyone of us deserves a second chance at some point in time, and as a parent of a couple of kids, I know I would be thankful if someone gave those kids of mine a second chance."

Sapp was a starting cornerback for the Hawks last year.  He recorded 36 solo and 13 assisted tackles, including three tackles for loss, three interceptions and 15 pass breakups, ranking sixth in the Big Ten.  As a freshman in 2000, he was named first team freshman all-American by after seeing action in all 12 games.  He moved into the starting lineup against Indiana and started every conference game.  He recorded 37 solo and 18 assisted tackles his first year, along with two forced fumbles, 14 pass breakups, three tackles for loss and one sack. 

Before leaving Iowa, Sapp was named to the pre-season watch list for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded each year to the nation's top defensive college player.

"This is an opportunity for Benny to redefine his life," Farley said.  "We set standards higher for Benny than even for the rest of our players.  I tried to make it difficult for him.  I met with him, looked him in the eye.  He's a young man who's remorseful and wants to make a change for the positive.  He's a talented young man that we hope brings a work ethic as well as talent to our program."

The Panthers graduated all four starters from last year's secondary, so there is a need at that position and it's a position that still needs to be solidified on the UNI roster. 

"Benny will have to earn a position on our team just like everybody else," Farley said.  "I did extensive research on him, more so than I have with any other player.  He's entering a position that is very young on our team and has not been solidified.  If he would have played in, say, our offensive line, it might have been a different story because we have a veteran offensive line."

Sapp earned first team all-Broward County at Boyd Anderson High School.  He was ranked as the 14th best prospect in Florida and earned all-state honorable mention recognition.  He was named the MVP for the North defense in the Broward County Athletic Association all-star game.  He was team captain his senior year.  He also lettered in wrestling, volleyball and track and field.

Sapp is the cousin of Tampa Bay defensive lineman Warren Sapp.








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