NFL means challenges for Hawks

BY DANNY PAYNE | APRIL 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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The NFL brings on a new set of challenges for college players — some physical, some financial, some mental. This means anything from playing an effective role on a roster to simply surviving a season to realizing the league isn’t like college — it’s a business.

That means no more safety net, no more buffer. If a player doesn’t perform, he’s out of a job.

“We receive scholarship checks [in college]; that doesn’t matter if you’re playing or not. If you’re on scholarship, you’re getting scholarship check,” offensive line prospect Andrew Donnal said.

“They’re feeding us here, we have a certain bubble that we live in. In the NFL, it’s not so much like that.”

Donnal — along with other Hawkeyes, including Brandon Scherff, a potential top-10 pick, Carl Davis, a first- to second-rounder, perhaps along with Louis Trinca-Pasat and/or Mark Weisman in the mid-to-late rounds — are about to experience this firsthand, with the NFL draft beginning today serving as the starting point.

After five years in Iowa City, they’ll leave the guarantees and comforts of scholarship life and instead bank their future on either performing or being cut.

Each has different beliefs on that notion. Davis, a defensive tackle, is excited about the opportunity and the chance to make money. “I have to take care of my Mom,” he said.

“I’m not going to worry about being cut or anything like that,” Davis said. “I’m just going to try to worry about being the best Carl Davis, because at the end of the day, whether you get cut or stay with the team, you know you did your best.”

Davis’ future in the league looks good, just as Scherff’s does. Make no mistake — if he performs the way he’s capable of, keeps his nose clean, and stays healthy, Scherff won’t have the slightest chance of being cut. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be an adjustment.

Scherff’s high-school coach, Dave Wiebers, said last fall that one of the biggest factors in Scherff deciding to stay for his senior season is because he liked Iowa’s team-oriented atmosphere so much and was in no hurry to leave.

“That’s not just him; a lot of people have that issue,” Donnal said. “The NFL is so much more of a business than it is in college … ultimately in the NFL, you’re marketing yourself, you’re trying to get yourself out there.”

Of course, everyone on Iowa’s roster has competed for a job before, and there’s a good chance Scherff will find someone to fish and hunt with if he and Donnal fail to end up on the same roster.
But it the fact of the matter is that every player will have adjustments to make along the way.

They’ll have to get used to college being over and a new set of challenges await and thus find the balance between enjoying that they’re playing football for a living, being a team player, but making sure they’re doing enough on the individual level to get their paychecks.

“That’s probably single-handedly one of the biggest changes. It’s a business,” Donnal said. “It can be kind of cutthroat when you get to the NFL, so that’s something we’ve all had to take in our minds and that we’re going to have to deal with.”

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