Gaglione takes over Hawkeye D-line

BY BEN ROSS | OCTOBER 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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Joe Gaglione didn’t have many college coaches knocking on his door coming out of high school.

The senior had offers to play college football from Iowa, Indiana, and Pittsburgh, but the Hawkeyes may have had the best recruiting tool of all: Ricky Stanzi.

Gaglione was high-school teammates at Lake Catholic with the former Iowa quarterback and current Kansas City Chief. Stanzi served as Gaglione’s host on an official visit, and he said other defensive linemen on the Iowa roster helped sway his decision to play for Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

“Mike Daniels and Karl Klug really attracted me when I came here to visit,” Gaglione said. “I knew Ricky … It was nice to come out here and be able to know someone.”

Gaglione was unranked by ESPN coming out of high school in 2008. And he didn’t produce for most of his time at Iowa, either.

He redshirted his freshman year, then was forced to sit out the 2009 season with a shoulder injury. The following year he saw garbage time against Iowa State, but that was it. Gaglione saw sporadic action as a junior in 2011, recording 7 tackles in 10 games. But now, in his last season, he is showing that he could have made an impact all along.

Gaglione is leading the Hawkeye defense with 4 sacks and 35 total tackles. He also has 8 tackles for a loss, just one behind the conference leader. The Novelty, Ohio, native is leading a defensive line that had many unfamiliar names going into the 2012 season — a line that has slowly emerged as a strength of the already solid Iowa defense.

Ferentz said he was proud of the way Gaglione has overcome injuries and become a disruptive pass rusher. He says that his work ethic and toughness is representative of the defensive line as a unit.

“That’s frustrating for any player, because you can’t get better.” Ferentz said. “If you’re not out there practicing or playing, you can’t get better. So that really has been a big impediment to his progress and it’s neat to see that he stuck with it. ... So now he’s getting some rewards.”

And even though many fans and members of the media were unsure about Iowa’s front four going into the season, other members of the defense said they were confident in the line all along, adding that the success of the defensive front makes their jobs easier.

“Joe is playing really well right now,” linebacker Anthony Hitchens said. “I think as a core, seniors Steve [Bigach] and Joe are leading them. [Joe] is pulling guards. He’s closing on them. He’s taking the tackles into the backfield — that’s one fewer lineman, there’s only four now. He’s just doing a lot of great things for our defense.”

Gaglione’s fellow linemen said he makes the unit better because of the disruption he creates on opposing offensive lines, but also because of a little jealousy that may linger when it comes to his sack totals.

“You like having Gags on your team because he’s a big powerful guy and can create havoc,” fellow defensive end Dominic Alvis said. “That’s always good to have. There’s a little jealousy between him and me. It just creates competition. It’s great. We tease each other, but we really don’t.

“I know I have to catch up to him.”

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