Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa's Josh Koeppel (left), James Ferentz, and Julian Vandervelde look on during the Iowa Hawkeyes spring scrimmage April 17, 2010. (Louis Brems/For the Quad-City Times) Louis Brems/Quad-City Times

IOWA CITY - It's one of those phone calls Kirk Ferentz has been dreading ever since he became Iowa's football coach more than a decade ago.

One of his players was tooling around campus on one of those little motorized two-wheeled vehicles that most of them have when he was blindsided by a pickup truck.

The good news is senior offensive lineman Josh Koeppel escaped serious injury in a mishap Monday morning. He was treated and released from the hospital with a variety of bumps, bruises and cuts but nothing more.

Koeppel had been battling for the starting center job with Ferentz's son, James, but the coach said Tuesday at his weekly news conference that he doubts Koeppel will be in uniform Saturday when the Hawkeyes open the season against Eastern Illinois.

"The most important thing is he's healthy and ready to go and that's a big thing," Ferentz said. "Could have been a lot worse, certainly."

A vast majority of Iowa's football players get around town on two wheels but Ferentz said he's never been wild about the idea.

"I've been worried about this for 11 years ... on a couple of fronts," he said. "No. 1, very few of them wear helmets, and the other thing is they're just not very protected."

He would love to ban all his players from riding scooters and mopeds, just as he has prohibited them from certain forms of social networking activities. But he knows that's not realistic.

"I understand it," Ferentz said. "Anybody who has worked on campus knows it's a nightmare to park. All we can do is encourage them to be careful and wear a helmet, and we haven't been very successful in that regard."

Guard Julian Vandervelde, who was named one of the Hawkeyes' captains for the season opener, said he thinks almost every player on the team has a moped or scooter. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi pegged it at 80 percent.

"We're still poor college students," Vandervelde said. "It's like two bucks a week for gas, and you can get anywhere you need to go in 5 minutes. It's very convenient."

But Vandervelde said what happened to Koeppel momentarily scared he and some teammates. Upon hearing the news, he rushed to the hospital only to find that his pal already had been sent home.

"Typical Koeppel," Vandervelde said. "He was already out of the hospital. ‘Oh, I got hit by a truck. I've just got a few scratches and things.' He was up and about doing the Josh Koeppel thing. The guy is tougher than heck."

Most of the players said what happened to Koeppel won't dissuade them from using their scooters.

Offensive tackle Markus Zusevics labeled it a "freak accident.

"You could be standing on the street doing nothing, and if somebody is going to hit you they're going to hit you," he said.

"There's not much you can do," Stanzi said. "If a truck runs into you, a truck runs into you."

Ferentz still doesn't like it, but he admitted he doesn't have a viable alternative.

"A bicycle would be good," he said. "But I guess that's kind of old-fashioned these days."