Brandon Scherff rates as the best offensive lineman in the draft, but that hasn’t always been his best position. For that matter, football wasn’t necessarily always the Iowa product’s best sport.
During his freshman season at Denison (Iowa) High School, Scherff became a five-sport star. He played football, basketball, track and field, tennis and baseball. As if that didn’t keep him busy enough, Scherff also played trombone in the school band.
In the spring, he went from track practice to tennis practice to baseball practice.
“I would consider myself a pretty good athlete,” Scherff said. “I gave tennis up my sophomore year. I did three sports in the spring, so I missed quite a few track events or tennis events.”
His exploits in high school remain legendary: Scherff once hit a home run 405 feet; he set the school record with 613 rebounds; and he threw the shot 65 feet.
On the football field, he played quarterback … at 290 pounds. His center weighed 190 pounds.
Scherff’s favorite play was the quarterback sneak, and he audibled to it anytime it was second-and-5 or less.
“Why not?” Scherff shrugged. “I told [the center] to go left, and I’d go right, or vice versa.”
Iowa turned Scherff into an Outland Trophy-winning offensive lineman. The school’s previous two left tackles went 23rd overall in the NFL Draft. Bryan Bulaga was selected by the Packers in 2010, and Riley Reiff went to Detroit in 2012.
The Lions have the 23rd overall pick this year and need offensive line help. But Scherff — whose best position might be guard in the NFL even though he made 33 starts at tackle in college — likely will have a new home earlier than that.
“I think it speaks for coach [Kirk] Ferentz and the coaching staff that he has there,” Scherff said. “I learned from Riley Reiff. … He has taught me everything I know. And Matt Tobin, he just went to the Eagles. So I played between those two guys and James Ferentz. It’s nice. … I’m just trying to carry on that tradition.”
Scherff left his mark at Iowa, as he did at Denison. Scherff hang-cleaned a school-record 443 pounds three times, a video of which went viral last summer. His one-rep max is 480 pounds.
Scherff showed his toughness after injuring a knee against Ball State last season. He went to the locker room, returned a series later, had an MRI on Monday, arthroscopic surgery Tuesday, practiced Wednesday and played Saturday against Iowa State.
“I owe something to my team,” Scherff said. “If I was able to play, I was going to play. They said two weeks or three weeks possibly. I said I felt pretty good Wednesday and asked if I could throw my knee brace and helmet on and just do some drills. They’re like, ‘Yeah, sure, go ahead.’ Thursday, I told them I felt fine. They said it was up to me. So I wanted to do that.
“I love the game. I’d do anything to play.”
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760