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No return worries

Susan Denk, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –

IOWA CITY – The Iowa Hawkeyes are eighth in the Big Ten in punt returns.

But the low average does not concern coach Kirk Ferentz.

Ferentz believes the college rule on punting is a bad one, for the players and for the numbers.

“The fact that everybody is allowed downfield when the ball is snapped, I think that’s a terrible rule for college football, but that’s the rule,” Ferentz said, noting in the NFL players have to be eligible to go downfield, “to be more sporting, if you will, but that’s just one person’s opinion.”

The Hawkeyes average 5.5 yards per return on six returns. Northwestern leads the conference, averaging 27.3 yards on seven chances.

The Wildcats, Nebraska and Wisconsin have each scored a touchdown on a punt return.

Micah Hyde has all six of Iowa’s returns and sits fifth individually in the conference. His longest return has been 11 yards.

Northwestern’s Mark Venric averages 30.6 yards per return.

“There’s usually someone coming free in (Micah’s) face,” Ferentz said. “If you look at his best returns, he’s made one guy miss and gets it up the field.”
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KEEP WATCHING: Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg has been named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy. Vandenberg is also a candidate for the 2012 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards.

The Campbell Trophy – named in honor of Bill Campbell, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal in 2004 – recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.

Candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.

Vandenberg, one of 50 nominees from the Football Bowl Subdivision, was named to the Capital One/CoSIDA District Six Academic All-America team in 2011. He has earned his bachelor’s degree in health and human physiology. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, the Keokuk High School graduate has started the last 17 games under center for Iowa.

Vandenberg ranks seventh in career pass completions (359) and eighth in career passing yards (4,345) and touchdowns (29). He was named to the 2012 Maxwell Award, Manning Award, Davey O’Brien Award, CFPA Quarterback Trophy, and Senior Bowl preseason Watch Lists.

The NFF Awards Committee will select up to 16 recipients, and the results will be announced via a national press release on Oct. 25. Each recipient will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and will vie as finalists for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy. Each member of the 2012 National Scholar-Athlete Class will also travel to New York City to be honored Dec. 4 during the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. One member of the class will also be announced live at the event as the winner of the Campbell Trophy.
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O, CAPTAIN: This week’s captains are Vandenberg, center James Ferentz, linebacker James Morris and defensive back Micah Hyde.
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HONORARY CAPTAIN: Sedrick Shaw, Iowa’s all-time leading rusher, will serve as honorary captain this weekend as the Hawkeyes host Minnesota.

Shaw was a four-year letterman for the Hawkeyes from 1993-96. The native of Austin, Texas rushed for 4,156 yards and 33 touchdowns on 837 attempts. His career totals also include 438 receiving yards, 380 yards on kickoff returns and 35 total touchdowns.

At the completion of his final season in 1996, Shaw held Iowa records for rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns, and was tied for third in career scoring. At the time, he ranked eighth in the Big Ten Conference in both rushing attempts and yards.

Shaw is the only player in Iowa history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three different seasons, and as a senior he became the eighth player in Big Ten history to accomplish the feat. He is one of five Hawkeyes to lead the team in rushing in three different seasons.

Shaw earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 1996. He was the MVP of Iowa’s 38-18 win over Washington in the 1995 Sun Bowl and the offensive MVP in Iowa’s 27-0 win over Texas Tech in the 1996 Alamo Bowl. Shaw rushed for more than 100 yards and scored one touchdown in each of the bowl victories. He shared Iowa team MVP honors in 1995 and 1996 and was a team captain as a senior.

Shaw rushed for more than 200 yards twice, including a career best 42 attempts for 250 yards and one touchdown in a 21-7 win at Michigan State in 1995. Later that season, he rushed 41 times for 214 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-20 win at Wisconsin. Iowa posted a 17-7 record in his final two seasons. Shaw rushed for more than 100 yards in 19 games.

Shaw was selected by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft and played in the NFL for three seasons.

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