IOWA CITY, Ia. – Leaders express themselves differently.
Some leaders get in your face to deliver their message, the louder and more intimidating, the better.
Others, like Iowa senior defensive back Jordan Lomax, take a more subtle approach to being a leader. Lomax leads mostly with his actions, especially when it comes to academics, where on a daily basis he strives for excellence.
“My grades have been pretty good since I’ve been here. So I try to just lead by example,” Lomax said Wednesday. “If (my teammates) see what I do in the classroom than they’ll come to me and ask, how do I get this (grade-point average) or something? Then I can sit down with them and let them know that it just takes a little bit of studying and a little bit of effort.”
Lomax speaks softly, but his message comes through loud and clear. He is what’s good about college football, a young man on a mission to better himself through sports and academics.
As a football player, Lomax wants to achieve as much as possible, both individually and as team. He cherishes the thought of winning a Big Ten title and making fans Hawkeye fans proud again.
Football brought Lomax halfway across the country from his home in Upper Marlboro, Md., to the University of Iowa. Football is also paying for his education as part of a full-ride scholarship.
The game means a great deal to Lomax, enough that he hasn’t figured out what he wants to do after his playing days are over.
“I’m not sure yet,” he said. “Right now, I’m just focused on football.”
That’s not entirely true. Lomax might say that he is focused solely on football, but that’s selling himself short because he never loses sight of the big picture.
Football isn’t just a game anymore to Lomax. It’s a gateway to opportunity.
“There are a lot of connections, just even within the University of Iowa, a lot of former players that played here and then went on to have their own businesses,” Lomax said. “That’s been really great.”
Lomax carried the weight of high expectations when he came to Iowa, but football was just a small part of it.
“My family taught me when I was young that school comes first,” Lomax said.
Family means a lot to Lomax, probably even more now with him being so far away from them in college. Many of his relatives live in or near Baltimore, Md., which has been the scene of civil unrest in the wake of six police officers being indicted for the death of Freddie Gray.
“I have family in that area, so of course, yeah, I’m open to it,” Lomax said. “I talk to my family a lot. But things have calmed down back there and everything is getting back under control. Everybody is fine.”
Lomax earned high praise as a multi-sport athlete at perennial power DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., but his performance in the classroom was even better. He was an Academic Honors Student in high school, earning a 4.0 grade-point average.
It’s not easy being a student-athlete. Lomax just makes it look easy. He twice has made Academic All-Big Ten, while also playing a key role in football. Lomax started 12 games at free safety last season and is expected to start at that position again this season.
Iowa recently announced its new Leadership Group, which not surprisingly, included Lomax among the 16 players selected. This will mark the fourth consecutive season that Lomax has been a member of Iowa’s Leadership Group.
The purpose of the group is to assist in formulating policies and being involved in team decision-making matters. Players are selected by a team vote.
The purpose of this column is just to remind fans that even with all the negativity surrounding the football program and head coach Kirk Ferentz, victories are still occurring.
Jordan Lomax represents a victory for Iowa.
That probably doesn’t mean much to the critics who are frustrated with Iowa’s recent stretch of mediocrity in football, but it should.