Iowa Hawkeyes OT Brandon Scherff welcomes 'Freak' nickname

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CHICAGO -- When it comes to offensive tackles creating preseason buzz, no one can compete with Iowa's Brandon Scherff.

NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt tweeted earlier this month that Scherff could go No. 1 overall in the 2015 draft, and Scherff's weight-room exploits are already legendary.

It would make sense for his head coach to try to knock him down a peg just to make sure Scherff doesn't get caught up in the hype, but Iowa's Kirk Ferentz said he doesn't think that strategy is necessary with the humble offensive tackle.

In fact, Ferentz seems to be taking the opposite approach -- he says Scherff could go down as one of the best players ever at Iowa -- a school that has sent three players to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and nine to the College Football Hall of Fame.

"You try to warn him about what the pitfalls are, but he is so grounded and he was raised that way," Ferentz said Monday at Big Ten Media Days. "... It's not like there's a lot of massaging going on there. This guy is just as humble as they come, he's as pure as they come.

"But all that being said, I had an interesting conversation with (former Iowa OL and current Ravens OL Marshal) Yanda this past June and he said he caught himself paying attention to some of the noise after the Super Bowl championship (in 2013), and he had to remind himself, 'Hey, just block it all out and do what you do.' So, yeah. Everybody's human. He's going to get a lot of attention. He should get a lot of attention. My guess is he'll handle it well. The thing he worries about is the image he conveys to his teammates. He's acutely aware of that. He gets that and I don't think you're going to see him get off the track."

Scherff was an All-Big Ten selection in 2013 and considered entering the draft after last season, but decided to return for his senior year. Earlier this month, Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle posted a video of Scherff cleaning 443 pounds three times, and the video promptly went viral.

The video seemed to build a case for Scherff to be considered college football's strongest man, but Scherff said he's not interested in getting involved in that debate and didn't think he would be able to pull off three reps at 443.

"I'm just trying to get better. Somebody asked me if I'm trying to prove something. No, I'm just doing what coach Doyle tells me to do and every time coach Doyle tells you to do something, you always do it," Scherff said. "He just said, 'Do your best.' And I popped three out, and I was happy with that. I didn't think it was going to happen."

As for the hype he's received this offseason, Scherff called it "unreal." Iowa running back Mark Weisman isn't so sure it's hype, though.

"I don't know if there's hype about him because it's all the real deal," Weisman said Monday. "He's a freak. He can lift unbelievable, but a lot of guys can lift a lot. The key thing for him is he brings that to the field. You see him drive a guy 10 yards downfield and then put him into the ground. It definitely correlates between what he does in the weight room and on the field."

Scherff the Freak? The star tackle says he's fine with the nickname if it sticks.

"They can call me whatever they want," he said.

Come next spring, it seems very likely everyone will be calling him a first-rounder, and maybe even the first overall pick.

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