IOWA CITY - Teammates freely toss around words such as "monster" and "beast" as they describe C.J. Fiedorowicz.
However, Iowa's hulking 6-foot-7, 265-pound tight end found his introduction to college football to be somewhat of a humbling experience.
"When you look up and you find yourself trying to block Adrian Clayborn, it can be a wake-up call," Fiedorowicz said. "You come in out of high school, thinking you've got this game mastered. All of those rankings, they don't mean a thing. You learn pretty quickly that you don't."
Fiedorowicz saw action in all 13 games the Hawkeyes played a year ago, but the next pass he catches will be his first at the collegiate level.
That still surprises Fiedorowicz a bit.
After all, he caught 183 passes for 3,121 yards and 42 scores as a standout at Johnsburg (Ill.) High School, where he earned prep all-American honors and was ranked among the top 150 recruits in the nation as a senior.
"I thought I would step right in and just pick up where I left off," Fiedorowicz said.
His early work against Clayborn taught him that he would no longer be able to simply use his size to bull his way past an opponent.
"I couldn't get away just throwing my body around and using my size as an advantage," Fiedorowicz said. "I could get away with that in high school. Here, I was surrounded by guys my size and I had to learn to play the game all over again."
Fiedorowicz initially was reintroduced to blocking, one step at a time.
"We started from scratch and looking back, that was probably the best thing for me. The technique I learned is something that will benefit me for the rest of my career,'' Fiedorowicz said.
It started with lessons on footwork, then followed with how to use his hands. He then worked on playing with the right pad level, all elementary fundamentals.
Fiedorowicz soaked it all up.
"People don't realize how exact everything needs to be at this level,'' Fiedorowicz said. "If you mess one thing up and don't have something mastered, it can throw everything out of synch.''
Understanding that has helped Fiedorowicz progress quickly.
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"C.J. may have made about as much progress as anybody in our program during the spring,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He's picked things up quickly and is only helping himself with the work he has put into his game.''
That improvement allowed Fiedorowicz opened fall camp behind Brad Herman on the Iowa depth chart.
The senior from Metamora, Ill., caught nine passes for 154 yards a year ago as a back-up to Allen Reisner.
His experience in the system, as well as the work of junior Zach Derby at the position, provides Fiedorowicz with plenty of competition.
"Brad and Zach know the system thoroughly and they are at where I want to be in terms of understanding things to the point where it becomes second nature,'' Fiedorowicz said. "I'm looking to find a way to contribute.''
And if a ball or two should come his way, Fiedorowicz is ready.
"You have to earn that opportunity, and I understand that now,'' he said. "I am hungry to catch that first pass, though. That will feel pretty good and it's been a while now. I'm pretty hungry.''