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Iowa Football: YouTube sensation Koeppel turns focus to ISU

[ 0 ] September 7, 2010 |

Matt Lauer of NBC’s “Today” show talks to Iowa football Josh Koeppel on Tuesday.

Iowa City, Ia. — It took less than an hour for Josh Koeppel to go from being a guest on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning, to just another student sitting in a sociology class at the University of Iowa.

“Yeah,” said Koeppel, an offensive lineman for the Hawkeyes’ ninth-ranked football team. “It’s not like getting hit by a truck really changes me.”

The low-key Koeppel continues to shrug off last week’s collision, which made him a YouTube sensation.

A video clip from police shows the 6-foot-2, 273-pound senior flipping off his Yamaha Zuma and landing on the asphalt. Amazingly, he staggered to his feet and stumbled into the national spotlight.

“I never would have guessed it would transpire into what it has,” Koeppel said. “It’s a little different. A little strange, actually.”

It became a surreal subplot to Saturday’s rivalry game between Iowa and Iowa State when Koeppel did a 90 second interview with Today host Matt Lauer — via satellite from Kinnick Stadium.

“I (only) saw the last 30 seconds, but I got very good reports,” Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Sounds like he has a future maybe on TV.”

Lauer expressed the shock felt by millions of Internet viewers when he told Koeppel, “Rarely do I gasp out loud when I see some footage. I did with this one.”

Lauer then asked Koeppel what he remembered of the incident.

“As I was getting in the intersection, I saw the truck last minute and I couldn’t even hit the brakes,” Koeppel told Lauer. “It felt like I was flying through the air, and then, next thing I knew, I rolled over and I saw my phone, grabbed it and stood up.”

When Koeppel talked with local media Tuesday during the Hawkeyes’ weekly news conference, he remained humble.

“I do feel pretty fortunate,” he said. “I would say I’m one of the luckier guys in the state of Iowa, for sure.”

Koeppel also talked about visiting the driver of the truck that hit him.

“I just wanted to let him know I was fine,” Koeppel said. “He’s a nice guy and he felt terrible.

“You put yourself on that side. … It’s not like he’s feeling great about himself. It was just an accident.”

The driver declined to comment when contacted by the Register on Tuesday, but the accident rekindled discussions about motor bike safety.

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, a motorcycle enthusiast, was asked about wearing a helmet during his Monday news conference.

“I think that’s a personal choice,” he said. “At times I do and at times, I don’t. I used to all the time, and just recently, in the last couple of months, I’ve stopped wearing (a helmet) occasionally as I ride into (Ames), and those are usually when the accidents happen.”

Hawkeye guard Julian Vandervelde talked about the affordability of riding through Iowa’s campus.

“We’re all still poor college students,” he said. “It’s like $2 a week in gas and you get where you need to go in 5 minutes. It’s very convenient.”

Koeppel was planning on selling his motor bike, but now it’s totaled.

“As far as buying a new one, I don’t think I will,” he said. “I think I’ll just finish the semester and move on.”

Koeppel’s next move is rejoining his Hawkeye teammates and playing against the Cyclones.

He’s listed as a backup at center behind James Ferentz.

“It would be pretty sad if I worked this long and it was ended that way,” Koeppel said. “Luckily, it wasn’t.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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