Binns leads with perfectionism — and really big hands
Broderick Binns has really, really big hands.
Saying they're like plates sounds cliché, but it's a measurement that applies to the Iowa defensive end; from fingertip to the heel of his wrist, his hands stretch 9.5 inches.
"I wear XXXL gloves," he said on Tuesday, laughing as he looked down at the dinnerware attached to the ends of his arms.
The 6-2 senior from the Twin Cities has used his wingspan — which he estimates is "longer than how tall I am" — and his enormous mitts to his advantage his entire career. He broke up two passes in 2008, part of a redshirt freshman season in which he was named to Rivals' Big Ten All-Freshman team. That number jumped to nine in 2009, when he started all 13 games of the Hawkeyes' push to the Orange Bowl. Binns finished that campaign with 63 tackles, including 10 for a loss and six sacks.
His numbers slumped in 2010, though, and he was reduced to playing a bit role on arguably the best defensive line in Iowa history. Binns split time with Christian Ballard at left end and recorded 36 tackles.
Binns's signature moment came in that season, though, and he created it with the help of — what else? — his hands.
No. 24 Arizona was leading ninth-ranked Iowa, 27-21, midway through the fourth quarter when Wildcat quarterback Nick Foles tried to loop a pass over the middle. Binns disengaged from his blocker, took a step back, and snatched the ball out of midair before rumbling 20 yards to complete the pick-6.
"I've had so many pass break-ups … I guess I was just bound to get [an interception]," Binns said after the Hawkeyes' 34-27 loss in the desert last September.
He hasn't gotten another one since, but it hasn't been for lack of trying. Binns has returned as Iowa's exclusive starter at left end and is tied with cornerback Micah Hyde for the team lead in pass break-ups, with seven. That number puts the 261-pound senior ahead of all but one other defensive lineman in the country (Central Florida's Victor Gray)
"It helps a lot," senior cornerback Shaun Prater said when asked what it means to have Binns act as almost a fifth defensive back. "If the quarterback is looking my way, I know [Binns] is going to put his hands up and make it a tough throw for him to get that pass over there. It shows you something about Broderick; that he's a great player, he's always active, and he's always trying to make a play for his team."
Binns' playmaking hasn't only come against the pass, either; he has been one of the few bright spots on a Hawkeye unit ranked No. 9 in the conference in total defense and dead-last against aerial attacks. He ranks in the top-10 in sacks (tied for seventh, with four) and tackles for loss (tied for ninth, with 10). The Big Ten doesn't keep quarterback hurries as an official statistic, but Binns would likely be somewhere near the top if it did.
"That's a guy who does everything right all the time … [and] that catches up with you," fellow defensive end Mike Daniels said. "[If] you do things wrong all the time, that catches up to you; he does things right all the time, and you see he's playing very well."
Daniels said he believes Binns has an uncommon desire to excel, a trait he perhaps picked up from playing alongside current NFL linemen Ballard, Karl Klug, and Adrian Clayborn.
"He refuses [doing] the slightest thing wrong; he'll get very hard on himself, because he wasn't perfect," Daniels said. "That's what he strives to be. He's someone you look forward to being around, and you look to to inspire you to be like that."
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