Steve Bigach

Iowa's Steve Bigach celebrates after sacking Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2011, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, IA. (John Schultz / Quad-City Times)

John Schultz

IOWA CITY — Preparing for a successful senior season on the Iowa defensive line isn’t the only objective Steve Bigach has this summer.

Joining Dominic Alvis as the only returning letterwinners for new defensive line coach Reese Morgan, Bigach is committed to not only lifting weights, but to lifting the books as well.

A five-game starter in 2011 who opened three midseason games at tackle and two of Iowa’s final three games at defensive end, Bigach faces another test this week.

Bigach has been studying in preparation for the Medical College Admission Test on Friday, something he has been working toward since enrolling at Iowa.

“Science and math have always been strengths of mine in the classroom and my family has been telling me forever that I needed to consider a career in medicine,” Bigach said. “I wasn’t necessarily sold on the idea initially, but I eventually came around to it.”

The discipline Bigach used to work his way up the defensive depth chart allows the 6-foot-3, 282-pound Cleveland native to prepare for his next academic challenges.

“Time management is going to be important to make this work, and it is something I’ve had to work at,” Bigach said. “Mixing academics and football have taught me how to use my time wisely. Understanding how to make that all work will be even more important moving forward.”

It’s the same type of commitment Bigach sees a young group of Hawkeyes defensive linemen making as they work through summer drills.

“It’s an important time right now. The guys on the D-line are putting in the work it takes and are doing what they can to improve,” Bigach said. “I’m in that same mindset. I know I have to be better than I was a year ago. It’s an important time for all of us, including myself.”

For Bigach, that extends beyond the confines of the Iowa football complex.

Bigach, who graduated from Iowa in May with a degree in integrated physiology, plans to take some courses this fall that will serve as prerequisites to medical school.

He warmed to the notion of pursuing entry in medical school over time.

Sign up for the Hawkmania Newsletter

Get our comprehensive Hawkeyes coverage delivered to your inbox

Bigach spoke with an uncle and a cousin who have medical degrees and spent some time with them, trying to gain a feel for what the field entails.

“I felt like that was time well spent,” Bigach said. “I talked to them a lot and followed them around for a few days, seeing what their career was like and if it was something I really wanted to do.”

He came away convinced that pursuing the opportunity would be worth it.

“Things were maybe a little different than I anticipated and it was something I could see myself doing,” Bigach said.

“As I get ready to take the test, I understand that there are no guarantees. There are guys who do pretty well on the exam, but do not gain admittance to med school. I’m hoping to make this work and the next few months are pretty important to me.”

That includes what transpires both on and off the field.

“It’s an important summer for a lot of reasons, a lot of reasons, and I hope to make the best of it,” Bigach said.