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  Two years ago, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz made a rare dip into the transfer portal. Where the portal is mainly known for harboring high-level recruits and established names on the college landscape, Ferentz recruited a little-known defensive end from Division II Hillsdale College in Michigan. "Somebody may get a marquee guy," Ferentz said. "We got Zach VanValkenburg, who I think is a marquee guy but he wasn't two years ago. It wasn't a big story." Today, VanValkenburg is an All-Big Ten selection and one of three players representing Iowa at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis. He is a "super senior" who utilized his extra year of eligibility granted due to COVID-19. Despite last year's production - 30 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and a nation-leading four fumble recoveries - this will be VanValkenburg's first opportunity to be at the forefront of Iowa's defensive line. A lot of that has to do with his teammates in Iowa City.

Along the defensive line, Iowa has had three products drafted to the NFL over the past two years, including 2020 first-round pick A.J. Epenesa. VanValkenburg was a dominant player at the Division II level, but there were Power 5 growing pains during his reserve season in 2019, as well as when he was a starter in 2020. "Learning a new defense and playing behind really good guys," VanValkenburg said. "You get your time in there and you're just trying not to mess up and that's a hard way to play. Getting the opportunity to start, get a lot of reps, you get more comfortable, game speed slows down and you can focus on making plays and not just holding your own." - Iowa City Press-Citizen


(DS#33 DE) rSr/2022 DE Zach VanValkenburgIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen


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