IOWA CITY — Brandon Scherff has gotten a lot of preseason publicity and deservedly so.
He might be the best offensive tackle in college football this season and he has a legitimate shot at being the first player picked in the next NFL draft.
He is the face of the Iowa football program entering this season, which doesn’t happen a lot with hulking linemen. They're usually sort of, well ... boring.
But it's hard not to be fascinated by Scherff. A video of him doing three reps of a hang-clean lift of 443 pounds recently went viral. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who isn't given to superlatives and hype, has referred to him as "Paul Bunyan.'' Teammates call him "a freak of nature.'' He's the stuff of which legends are made.
So much already has been written about the 6-foot-5, 320-pound senior from Denison, but here are 10 more things you might not know:
1. He may be the best punt return man on the Iowa roster.
"He can catch punts as well as anybody on our team,'' assistant coach Reese Morgan said. "That's the honest-to-God truth ... He's Ed Hinkel in a big body.''
Scherff has fielded punts in practice a few times but just for fun. It's not something the Hawkeyes ever plan to do in a game.
That would be like lining up a 370-pound guy at running back and letting him score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. No one would do that, right?
2. Scherff eats six meals a day and he spent the summer teaching freshman understudy Ike Boettger to do the same. Boettger arrived at Iowa weighing about 230 pounds but is now listed at 266.
3. Scherff went fishing four days a week all summer, usually in the company of linemates Austin Blythe and Andrew Donnal, often on an Iowa County farm pond owned by Blythe’s family.
"We caught a bunch of crappies, bass ... I don't think there was anything too big,'' Scherff said. "They're all fun.''
4. He has hunted all sorts of wild game back home in western Iowa, including coyotes, deer, pheasants and turkey. On one particularly memorable weekend, he bagged eight coyotes.
5. His dream hunting trip is to go to Texas and shoot wild boars from a helicopter.
"I've seen it on Youtube and I want to do it,'' he said.
But doesn't that seem a bit unfair? Using a helicopter to track down some poor little pigs?
"Absolutely, you get to shoot them with automatic rifles,'' Scherff said with a grin. "It'd be fun. I want to experience that at least once.''
6. Although he can sound a tad bloodthirsty, Scherff is actually a nice, down-to-earth, pleasant guy as long as you’re not a wild boar, coyote, largemouth bass, PETA activist or Nebraska defensive end.
"Off the field you'd never know he's the kind of player he is on the field,'' Donnal said. "On the field, he's a guy you don't want to be lining up against. Off the field, he's a great guy. He's a good friend to a lot of guys on the team, just a good all-around person.''
7. Scherff first captured the attention of Iowa coaches not on the football field but at the state track meet. Scherff was dueling another Iowa football recruit, Drew Clark, for the Class 3A shot put title.
"The last throw Scherff is down and all of a sudden he muscles it with absolutely poor technique but an explosive throw to win the darn thing,'' Morgan said. "So, you knew he was competitive, you knew he had explosiveness.''
8. In addition to winning two state titles in the shot, starring in football (he played quarterback as a 270-pound sophomore), averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds a game in basketball and pitching for the baseball team, Scherff also played tennis in high school.
He still gets out and swats the ball around the court from time to time although he'd rather fish.
9. While Iowa football players are prohibited from using Twitter during the season, the university's athletic communications department has created a Twitter account with which to promote Scherff. (Doesn't seem like too much of a contradiction, huh?)
Scherff recently did a Q&A with fans via Twitter, during which he was asked such questions as: "Could you beat a bear in a wrestling match?'' Answer: "I’ve never tried, but I would give it my best shot.''
10. About that weightlifting video: Scherff wanted to do a personal best in his last off-season "max-out'' lifting session so he figured he would take one shot at breaking his own school record of 437 pounds by hang-cleaning 443 — roughly the weight of two full-sized refrigerators.
In the hang-clean, the lifter takes the barbell and holds it with his arms extended downward, then pops it up to his chest. Scherff intended to do it once, but his adrenaline kicked in. He did it three times.
"I got texts saying 'Good lift' and I didn't know what they were talking about,'' Scherff said. "I didn't know Coach (Chris) Doyle had sent it out on the internet ... Now I guess it's out there for everyone to see.''
There is no listing of what the world record is for the hang-clean since it is not a lift that is done in competition, but two-time Olympic gold medalist Hossein Rezazadeh supposedly maxed out at 230 kilograms (507 pounds) in a workout prior to the 2000 Sydney Games.
But he only did one rep.
And Rezazadeh probably never shot eight coyotes in one weekend.