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4.Ronnie Lester https://t.co/X4zN0KSiqT
— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) December 13, 2017
ANSWER: What a question from @ChinLovesIowa (Matt Winchester) directed at actor and Iowa native Tom Arnold, asking for his favorite Hawkeyes and his top three. Certainly you can make a case for any of the four Hawkeyes Arnold listed. The actor later added basketball players Chris Street and Jess Settles.
Gable, who wrestled at Iowa State, coached the Hawkeyes to 15 NCAA wrestling titles in 21 years, including nine straight from 1978 through 1986. His legacy knows no bounds. Nile Kinnick died in World War II during a training exercise off the coast of Venezuela. Kinnick won the 1939 Heisman Trophy, and in 1972, Iowa Stadium was renamed for him. I’ll go out on a limb and say had Kinnick lived, he would have become president of the United States sometime between 1968 and 1980.
Don Nelson was a terrific basketball player at Iowa in the early 1960s and owns the NBA record for career coaching victories. Land of 10 readers voted Ronnie Lester as the greatest basketball player in Iowa history, and if he wasn’t injured in the 1980 Final Four, he might have led the Hawkeyes to the national title.
There’s no argument from me regarding Arnold’s list. Maybe I’d add Hayden Fry over Don Nelson, but that’s not a criticism. As for the players in my memory bank of 30-plus years watching or covering Iowa athletics, I’ll name six others who stand out as enjoyable (and I’m leaving out 300 more athletes who qualify for this):
QB Chuck Long: After Kinnick, Long probably is the most revered football player in Iowa history. Long led Iowa to an outright Big Ten title in 1985, a No. 1 ranking for five weeks and was only 45 points from winning the Heisman Trophy. His bootleg against Michigan State and drive against Michigan are legendary moments in team, school and state history. He was the first quarterback to reach 10,000 passing yards in NCAA football and remains among the top 10 in several Big Ten passing categories.
S Bob Sanders: No, Sanders didn’t receive the All-America acclaim as some other players, but nobody set the tone in the Kirk Ferentz years like Sanders. He changed games with his legendary hits. In his final game at Kinnick against rival Minnesota, Sanders had 16 tackles and 3 forced fumbles. “When we first put Bob in the starting lineup as a freshman, it was like being in a street fight and having your big brother show up,” coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters before the 2004 NFL Draft.
OL Brandon Scherff: No offensive lineman displayed more raw power than Scherff. When he destroyed a blitzer against Pitt in 2014, the only way I could describe it was like a wrecking ball hitting a stack of pumpkins. I’m convinced Scherff’s game against Ohio State in 2013 was the greatest played by an offensive lineman in Iowa history. In his senior season, Scherff tore his meniscus in a game, had knee surgery, and played the following week.
RB Akrum Wadley: When you look closely at Wadley’s career, few Iowa players could match his penchant for big plays in big moments. This season his 46-yard catch-and-run against Iowa State forced OT. His two long touchdowns against Penn State nearly provided an upset. As a junior, Wadley had late game-winning TD runs at Minnesota (56 yards) and Rutgers (26). As a sophomore, Wadley tied the school record with 4 rushing touchdowns at Northwestern, a game in which he rushed for 204 yards.
G Devyn Marble: When Iowa was transitioning from basketball bottom feeder to Big Ten contender, Marble was the reason for that rise. He came to Iowa as a skinny 17-year-old and left as the Big Ten’s best guard. As a sophomore in an NIT game at Oregon, Marble hit his first seven 3-point attempts. He could play any position. Combined with his father, the late Roy Marble, the Marbles became the Big Ten’s first father-son combination to each score 1,000 points. They totaled 3,810 points at Iowa.
F Aaron White: From getting locked in Iowa’s basketball locker room all night his first summer on campus to reaching No. 2 on the Hawkeyes scoring list, nobody worked harder or displayed more passion than Aaron White. He was overlooked in the recruiting process and Iowa gave him a chance. White scored 19 points in his debut, the most for an Iowa freshman since 1944. After a 6-6 start to Big Ten play his senior season, White willed the Hawkeyes to six straight victories to finish 12-6.
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