Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde has described himself as a bit of a nerd. He plays the guitar, is a karaoke hero, and sometimes likes to relax with a game of Dungeons & Dragons.
Can a Renaissance man make a living in the NFL trenches?
“That’s actually came up a couple times,” Vandervelde said. “My agents went over it with me. I have so many interests; I’m smart and do so many different things, I might not be focused on football.”
In the Pro Football Weekly 2011 Draft guide, Vandervelde is summed up this way: “Short, squatty developmental, positional, wall-off blocker who may be too smart and analytical to stay interested in the NFL game.”
Vandervelde laughed when heard that.
“I’ve been extremely successful at college football splitting my time between football, school, projects and my personal interests. Now you take away school, and I have that much more time to focus on football.
“Realistically, in season, all I want to do is play football. Out of season, I worry about the other stuff. Focus? I’m not worried about it.”
Vandervelde is on track to graduate with a double degree in English and Religious Studies, with a minor in Japanese.
He said he learned that he scored 11th on the Wonderlic test among all the invitees at the NFL Combine in February with a score of 35, which is pretty strange for a lineman.
“Most of the time the guys getting the highest scores are quarterbacks,” Vandervelde said.
The 6-foot-2, 301-pound lineman started 37 games for the Hawkeyes. His measureables are solid — he recorded 25 strength lifts at Iowa’s pro day — and he earned a second team all-Big Ten nod by the media.
He also happens to be an offensive lineman from Iowa, a school that has built a pretty good reputation of developing OL under Kirk Ferentz.
“People mention coach Ferentz in interviews,” Vandervelde said. “It definitely is an advantage to have a great tradition. Tough and smart, and not always the biggest guys.
“We play hard, and we’re smart and do things right, and we’re successful. Having that tradition is an advantage.”
With tradition on his side, Vandervelde used his brain at the combine, too. When asked if he wanted to take some repetitions at center, he stepped right in.
Vandervelde worked out a little at center the spring of his junior season, but never played it in a game at Iowa.
“After the season was done, Joel Hilgenberg was teaching me the center position,” Vandervelde said. “I thought it was in my best interest to say, ‘Yes, I can’ play center.”
Most draft experts project Vandervelde as a third-day player, and probably not coming off the board until the seventh round. If he’s not picked, he should have the chance to end up in some NFL’s camp.
“My friends and family keep me posted on what they are saying,” Vandervelde said. “I’m about as confident as I can be. As long as I get into a camp somewhere, I can prove what I can do. I can show how tough I am and how much I love the game.
“Then they’ll have no choice but to put me on their roster.”
It’d be the smart thing to do.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football