Thanks to Tony Ramos accomplishing the always difficult challenge of winning an NCAA individual wrestling title, picking the top University of Iowa male student-athlete for 2013-14 was easy.
The hard part was trying to pick and then rank in order the other nine spots on this year’s list of the top 10 UI male student-athletes.
It was so hard that I made an exception this year by ranking 12 student-athletes instead of 10. I couldn’t bring myself to rank just one or two of Iowa’s senior triumvirate at linebacker because all three deserved to be ranked in the top 10, nor could I justify dropping any of the other nine student-athletes on the list.
So in the spirit of fairness, linebackers Anthony Hitchens, James Morris and Christian Kirksey all the share the No. 10 spot.
Ramos was the only UI student-athlete to capture a national title during the 2013-14 sports calendar year. He conquered his 133-pound weight class in March, becoming the 53rd Hawkeye wrestler to win a national title in wrestling.
Ramos was determined not to become one of the best Hawkeye wrestlers to never win a national title. He avoided that label by edging Wisconsin’s Tyler Graf 3-1 in a tiebreaker victory to win the national title.
Ramos was among six Iowa wrestlers who earned all-America status by finishing in the top eight at the NCAA Championships. But he was the only Hawkeye wrestler to finish higher than fourth place.
This year’s field of candidates was so deep that Iowa cornerback B.J. Lowery received only honorable mention despite the media voting him first-team all-Big Ten. It came down to choosing Lowery over one of the three linebackers and I just couldn’t do it.
This year’s list:
1. Tony Ramos, sr., wrestling: The Carol Stream, Ill., native clawed his way to a 32-2 record en route to winning the national title at 133 pounds. He led Iowa with 12 pins and completed the season sweep of winning a Big Ten and national title for the 61st time in school history. He also finished 34-0 during his career at Carver-Hawkeyes Arena.
2. Jake Yacinich, jr., baseball: His performance at shortstop was so impressive that the Los Angeles Angels selected the West Des Moines Dowling graduate in the eighth-round in the 2014 Amateur Baseball Draft. A first-team all-Big Ten selection, he finished ranked in the top 10 in the conference in seven statistical categories, including second in batting average (.365), steals (25) and triples (4).
3. Devyn Marble, sr., basketball: He didn’t surpass his father’s career scoring record of 2,116 points, but his father, Roy Marble Sr., also never made first-team all-Big Ten as a Hawkeye. Devyn achieved that honor this past season after leading Iowa in scoring (17.0), free throws made (142), free throws attempted (199), steals (60) and minutes played (30.2) per game. The Southfield, Mich., native also finished second on the team with 118 assists and became the first Hawkeye senior to amass at least 550 points, 100 rebounds, 100 assists and 60 steals in a season. He was rewarded for his performance by being selected by the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the NBA draft Thursday. Denver then traded the pick to the Orlando Magic.
4. Steven Ihm, sr., golf: The Peosta native capped a brilliant career by making first-team all-Big Ten for the second year in a row. He was the driving force behind Iowa’s sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. He finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships and was named to the tournament’s all-Championship team. In his career, Ihm registered two of the top four single-season scoring averages, and three of the top 16, in program history. His 2013-14 average of 71.45 is the second-best mark in program history.
5. Brandon Scherff, jr., football: The Denison native took a major step in becoming Iowa’s next great offensive lineman as a junior, earning first-team all-Big Ten accolades. Much to the relief of Iowa fans, Scherff decided to return for his senior season even though he likely would have been an early-round selection in the 2014 NFL draft.
6. C.J. Fiedorowicz, sr., football: He finally lived up to the enormous hype that accompanied him from high school, earning first-team all-Big Ten recognition as a senior. The Johnsburg, Ill., native completed his career with at least one catch in 31 consecutive games. He also led Iowa with six touchdown receptions last season. He was the first Hawkeye selected in the 2014 NFL draft, as the Houston Texans took him in the third round and with 65th pick overall.
7. Derek St. John, sr., wrestling: The former West High standout failed to defend his national title at 157 pounds, but he still finished fifth at the 2014 NCAA Championships, becoming just the 18th four-time all-American in program history. He also finished second at the Big Ten Championships and had a 30-6 overall record. He opened the season ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds and won his first 20 matches.
8. Aaron White, Jr., basketball: The Strongsville, Ohio, native led Iowa in rebounding and was the team’s second leading scorer with per-game averages of 6.7 and 12.8, respectively. He earned third-team all-Big Ten accolades for the second consecutive season. White is also the first Hawkeye to record at least 1,300 points, 650 rebounds, 100 steals and 100 assists by his junior season.
9. Bobby Telford, jr., wrestling: A native of Hockessin, Del., he finished fourth at the NCAA Championships and third at the Big Ten Championships while posting a 26-7 record at 285 pounds. He finished 12-6 against ranked opponents and climbed to No. 1 in the rankings during the regular season.
10. Anthony Hitchens, sr. football: One of the latest in a long line of unheralded recruits who achieved stardom as a Hawkeye, he led Iowa with 112 tackles, including a team-high 54 solo stops, this past season. The coaches and the media both voted Hitchens second-team all-Big Ten, and the Dallas Cowboys selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft. Not bad, considering he came to Iowa as a two-star running back recruit from Lorain, Ohio.
10. James Morris, sr., football: A four-year starter from Solon, he led the team with 17 tackles for losses, seven sacks and four interceptions last season. He also finished second on the team with 106 tackles and was named second-team all-Big Ten by the coaches and the media. Morris probably would top the list if you factored in academics, where he also excels as a first-team Academic all-America honoree.
10. Christian Kirksey, sr., football: The St. Louis native finished third on the team with 104 tackles, while also forcing and recovering two fumbles. He returned a fumble 52 yards for a touchdown in the season opener against Northern Illinois and recorded a team-high 14 tackles. The Cleveland Browns selected Kirksey in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft with the 71st pick overall.
Honorable mention: B.J. Lowery, sr., football; Jake Mangler, jr., baseball; Carl Davis, jr., football; Mike Evans, jr., wrestling; Cory Clark, fr., wrestling; Nathan Burak, so., wrestling; Nick Day, jr., baseball; Eric Toole, jr., baseball; sr., Kevin Lewis, jr., cross country; Brett Van Sloten, sr., football; Brian Bullington, jr., golf; Ian Vandersee, jr., golf; Gabe Hull, sr., track and field; Dustin Rhoads, sr., swimming; Jonas Dierckx, sr., tennis.
Category: Hawkeye news