Junior defensive end Dominic Alvis spent five months doing the rehabilitation tango with Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.
That was enough.
“He’s a good guy to have on our side,” Alvis said. “But you don’t want to be there.”
Alvis spent the spring running sprints on the sidelines while rehabbing from a left knee injury he suffered against Michigan last fall. He was stuck riding the stationary bike while the other defensive linemen worked on drills
“That’s the worst feeling in the world,” Alvis said. “Coach Doyle is over there kicking my butt … I’d rather be playing.
“He makes it hard now, so it’s easier later. I’m really thankful but sometimes the workouts … they are tough.”
Alvis returned to regular work shortly after spring practice ended in April.
And that’s good news for a defensive line that lost three starters for the second straight season.
After all, the Big Ten Network.com ranks Iowa’s 2012 defensive line ninth ahead of units from Northwestern, Indiana and Minnesota.
“That’s OK, we like being underdogs,” Alvis said. “I think we have a lot to prove.”
Alvis has been able to watch practices as he rehabbed this summer and doesn’t share the doom and gloom for an inexperienced unit.
“We’re young, but gosh dang, we can move,” Alvis said. “We were flying around last spring; we were looking good.”
Only two players return with starting experience on the D-line — Alvis (8 starts) and senior Steve Bigach (5).
The 11 players listed at defensive line, there are only two seniors (Bigach and Joe Gaglione) and two juniors (Alvis and Nathan Lyman — a transfer walk-on).
Iowa also has a quartet of freshmen coming in, including a pair of big fellas — Faith Ekakitie (6-3, 275) and Jaleel Johnson (6-4, 300).
“They are big, which is good,” Alvis said. “They are not like me. I was 215 pounds when I came, so I can’t relate.”
Alvis was a project on the defensive line and maybe a little undersized when he was thrown into the mix last season at 255 pounds.
“Yeah, I wish I would’ve been heavier,” Alvis said. “Ten pounds will make all the difference. It’ll get me better leverage going again guys that weight 300-plus.”
In the Big Ten, that’s virtually every lineman. Alvis said he was up to 265 pounds this summer which felt like his “desired weight to play at.”
Alvis had 30 tackles, 3½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks last season over eight games. It was starting to click for him when he went down with injury.
“You put in so much time, you dedicate to the sport and all of a sudden its taken away from you; you are out of a job,” Alvis said. “What do I do now? Eventually I took a positive step and worked on getting healthy.”
Alvis said he stayed in shape but is behind in his technique work.
How Iowa deals with a young and inexperienced D-line this fall is another thing. Alvis said it will help having a lot of veterans behind them at linebacker and defensive back.
“We’re going to be stacked,” Alvis said.
Linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey have said they may blitz more often under defensive coordinator Phil Parker than they did with Norm Parker.
Alvis would rather see the front four provide the pressure.
“Norm’s philosophy was, you send one guy, you’ve got one less guy in coverage,” Alvis said. “It’s conservative, but it makes sense.
“I don’t know what coach Parker has cooked up, but it’s my responsibility to get to the quarterback either way. That’s what I’m working on.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football