Sometimes the Air Force still peeks out of the Iowa for sophomore fullback Mark Weisman.
“Yes, sir,” Weisman said last week when responding to a question from veteran newsman Bob Brooks.
“You can tell by his body he’s from a military school,” Iowa running back Damon Bullock said. “He’s like a juggernaut.
“He has a demeanor about him you can tell he joined the Air Force.”
The Hawkeyes are glad Air Force wasn’t the right fit for Weisman. The sophomore earned the fullback job in the fall, and Saturday got upgraded to tailback when both Bullock and Greg Garmon got hurt in the second quarter.
Weisman had 113 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.
“That was not scripted, I can assure you,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of Weisman’s emergence. “But he runs tough. I can’t say enough about him.”
Weisman does run tough, blasting through holes and seeking contact downfield with smaller defensive backs.
“Just run as fast as you can, as hard as you can, and hope for the best,” Weisman said.
A graduate of Stevenson High School in Buffalo Grove, Ill., Weisman liked the idea of going to the Air Force Academy.
“I thought it was what I wanted with life, too,” Weisman said. “And the fullback gets a lot of carries there, football-wise. That was my thought process.”
The football players at Air Force go through a six-week boot camp in the summer before they start two-a-days.
Weisman lost 20 pounds.
“There’s no way around it,” he said. “It is mentally tough, too, more than physically.”
The particulars of military life proved difficult for Weisman.
“Every morning, they check if you make your bed,” Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg said. “It’s got to be within a half-inch of specifications. After the first two months of his bed being flipped over every morning, he knew it wasn’t going to work out.
“I don’t know if that was true or not. He might be pulling my chain.”
Nope, Weisman confirmed that story.
“You know they are just going to yell at you,” Weisman said. “You just have to be ready for that. You have to know that going in.”
In the end, all of it was just too much for Weisman.
“It was just not the place for me,” Weisman said. “A lot of military. School is tough. Football is demanding. It’s a hard place to play at.”
Looking for a landing spot, Weisman still had good feeling toward Iowa, which recruited him out of high school.
“I just know the tradition here, and it just fit my personality pretty well,” Weisman said. “My (high school) coaches knew a couple people here. It all worked out in the end.”
Still, one doesn’t go from a military school to the No. 2 party school in the country without a few hiccups.
“He’s happy he doesn’t have to do that any more,” Bullock said of the precise bed-making. “Once in a while, something comes up. You’re at Iowa now, not the Air Force.”
Weisman knows he got a lot of good habits from his short time at Air Force.
“It was a little shift,” Weisman said. “I took a lot of things from there here. The mentality. I came here to play for a school, to play football. I was focused on that completely.”
Weisman may go back to being a fullback and may never run for 100 yards again.
But for now, he’s become a new weapon and bring a new attitude for Iowa (2-1).
“Have a dream and work at it,” Weisman said. “Come in and work every day as hard as you can. What you control is how hard you work.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football