For C.J. Fiedorowicz, Aug. 2 can’t arrive soon enough.
That’s the day the junior tight end starts fall camp for the University of Iowa football team. Fiedorowicz will begin preparations for the team’s Sept. 1 season opener in Chicago against Northern Illinois with high hopes for a big season and as one of the nation’s top players at his position.
The arrival of new Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis from Texas has increased Fiedorowicz’s workload, much to his delight.
“We caught a lot of balls in the spring,” said the 6-foot-7 Fiedorowicz, a Johnsburg High School graduate. “I’ll never complain about catching a lot of balls. We’ll probably throw it 60 (percent) rather than running it 60 (percent).”
Thanks to Iowa’s renewed focus on the passing game, Fiedorowicz will have more opportunities for bigger plays and mismatches.
“We’ve got some longer routes,” he said. “Last year, I was running 5-, 6-, 7-yard routes. This year, we’ve got 12-yard routes, we’ve got 16-yard routes. We have a couple of formations where I’m in the slot (receiver position). That’s going to help mix up the offense.”
As a sophomore, Fiedorowicz shined late in the season, starting the team’s last five games and catching 16 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns.
“The last five games gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “It makes me go harder every day in practice.”
His impressive finish to last season opened eyes around the country.
This month, Fiedorowicz was one of 33 tight ends around the nation who were named to the preseason John Mackey Award watch list. The honor is given annually to the country’s top college tight end. Fiedorowicz is one of six Big Ten players named to the list.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid – playing college football and being on a list like this.”
Fiedorowicz has spent plenty of time this spring studying film and the playbook to be ready for fall camp.
“I’ve got it down pretty well,” he said. “Knowing the offense has given me a lot of confidence. It’s helped make me confident in knowing my assignments.”
Knowing his job on each play has allowed Fiedorowicz to sharpen his route running and fine-tune other skills in order to improve his connection with senior quarterback James Vanderberg.
“James is throwing the ball well, and we’ve got some good athletes at wide receiver,” Fiedorowicz said. “That will help us to get each other open.”
Bradshaw nominated: Bryan Bradshaw, a junior quarterback for D-II Winona (Minn.) State’s football team, has been selected as a finalist for the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.
A team of 22 athletes will be selected in September for the honor, which recognizes college football players for achievements in community service. Bradshaw, a Prairie Ridge grad, is one of 117 finalists nationally.
Bradshaw serves as the chairperson for WSU’s 48 Hour Practice event, in which athletes from 14 sports take turns practicing around the clock for two days to raise awareness and money for an effort to dig clean water wells in Africa. In the fall, the WSU event raised more than $5,000. Bradshaw also volunteers in local elementary school classrooms and has worked to repair flood damage in Nashville, Tenn.
Last season, Bradshaw took over the starting QB job for the final four games, throwing three touchdowns, running for two scores and completing nearly 60 percent of his passes.
Superb sprinter Friske: McHenry grad Alex Friske was named the Most Valuable Runner at the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s outdoor track meet this spring after winning three events.
Friske, a McHenry grad, helped D-III Anderson (Ind.) University to a second-place team finish by winning the 100-meter dash (13.59 seconds), the 200 (27.32) and the 100 hurdles (15.94).
Friske also ran the conference’s fastest time this spring in the 100 (12.82). She ranked second in the 200 (26.74) and the 100 hurdles (15.13).
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com and check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com.