IOWA CITY — A torn anterior cruciate ligament may keep Brandon Snyder off the field this fall for the Iowa football team, but it won’t prevent him from having an impact on what transpires in the Hawkeye secondary.
“It changes what I can do physically, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t have a voice,’’ Snyder said. “My job now is to help the guys who are on the field, to be a benefit that way.’’
Iowa’s depth and experience at safety is limited.
Davenport Assumption alum Jake Gervase, like Snyder a junior, is working to step into the starting free safety position Snyder filled a year ago.
Miles Taylor does return to begin his third season as a starter at strong safety, while Amani Hooker and Noah Clayberg fill reserve roles. Hooker saw limited action last season while Clayberg was working out at running back last spring before Snyder was injured in practice.
“There is talent there. Those guys can play and I’m doing what I can to help them out,’’ Snyder said.
In addition to mentoring teammates, Snyder is also working to facilitate his own return as soon as possible.
With a redshirt year unlikely because he redshirted as a true freshman, Snyder is doing what he can to get back in the mix as quickly as he can.
“I’m not ruling anything out. It’s up to the doctors, but I do what I can to take a step forward every day,’’ Snyder said. “It’s kind of a day-to-day thing for me.’’
He believes he is making good progress in rehabbing the injured left knee.
“There isn’t any timeline or anything. My job is to strengthen my knee, work on my running and eventually, if it all goes well I may get a chance to be back out there this fall,’’ Snyder said. “If that’s not meant to be, I’m good with that, too, and I’m prepared to keep working. I just want to help any way I can.’’
Snyder, who was third on the team with 85 tackles and shared the team lead with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries a year ago, said the timing of his return will ultimately come down to being able to effectively compete.
“I want to be out there doing the things that I do. If I can’t play at that level, I’ll wait and work to get back to that point,’’ Snyder said.
Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker trusts Snyder and medical personnel to determine just when that happens.
“He seems to be doing a good job with his rehab and past experience tells me he’ll know when he is able to do what is expected of him,’’ Parker said. “I think he’s making the most of the situation he’s in right now and that’s all you can ask. He’s helping the other guys out.’’
Snyder has watched a lot of film, studying both his own play from last season and now watching his teammates to be better positioned to offer them help.
He believes that Gervase is more than ready to step in and compete as Iowa works toward its Sept. 2 season opener against Wyoming at Kinnick Stadium.
“We came in together and we’ve moved up the depth chart together. He’s worked hard and I feel like he’ll do an awesome job,’’ Snyder said. “He’s a smart guy and he’s prepared for the opportunity. He’ll handle it well. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.’’
That gives Snyder time to work his way back into the mix as he continues to deal with what he describes as a learning experience.
“I’ve had to lean on my faith quite a bit to get through this. There have been good days and bad and you just trust the process, that things will work out,’’ he said. “I believe that now as much as ever.’’