IOWA CITY, Ia. – I’ve been ranking the top 10 male student-athletes at the University of Iowa on an annual basis for nearly two decades, but this list is different.
You might even say it’s special because it’s the first top-10 list that was written for allhawkeyes.com, which launched on April 6.
Like all my previous top-10 rankings, finishing this list wasn’t easy because there were so many worthy candidates, but so few spots to fill.
Here’s what I finally came up with, a list that includes four seniors, three sophomores, two juniors and a redshirt freshman.
1. Brandon Scherff, football, sr. Denison – His sustained excellence at left tackle was a bright spot to an otherwise disappointing season. You name the honor and Scherff probably earned it, including the 2014 Outland Trophy, which goes to nation’s top interior lineman.
He now earns a lot of money with the Washington Redskins after being selected in the first-round of the 2015 NFL draft in April. Scherff was the fifth player taken overall in the draft.
2. Aaron White, basketball, sr., Strongsville, Ohio – The 6-foot-9 power forward was not only a stat-sheet stuffer at Iowa, but also a winner. The Hawkeyes improved in each of White’s four seasons on the team, saving the best for last. Iowa won an NCAA Tournament game in March for the first time since 2001 with White leading the way.
A first-team all-Big Ten selection as a senior, White started all 34 games and led Iowa in scoring (16.4), rebounding (7.3) and steals (45). He is the first Hawkeye to lead the team in rebounding four consecutive seasons. He finished his Iowa career ranked first in Iowa games played (140), and free throw makes (618) and attempts (800), second in scoring (1,859), third in rebounding (901), and 14th in double-doubles (16). He also made more free throws (618) than any Big Ten player the last 50 years and ranks third all-time in the conference.
3. Cory Clark, wrestling, soph., Pleasant Hill – His runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships at 133 pounds was the individual highlight for the Iowa wrestling team. The former Southeast Polk star also finished third at the Big Ten Championships and had 30-6 overall record, winning 13 of his last 15 matches.
4. Carson Schaake, golf, soph., Omaha, Neb. – He was a consistent force throughout the season, which was highlighted by his co-championship at the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa’s top finisher in seven events this year, Schaake also led the Hawkeyes in top-10 finishes (four), top-20 finishes (nine), rounds at or below par (18) and scoring average, which was the second-best in program history (71.17).
5. Aaron Mallett, track and field, soph., St. Louis – He capped a spectacular season by finishing in fifth-place in the 110-hurdles at the NCAA Championships. He also won that event at the Big Ten Championships in May. His time of 13.43 seconds set an Iowa record.
6. Blake Hickman, baseball, jr., Chicago – His powerful right arm was a key to Iowa’s historic season, which included an NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since 1990. The 6-5, 210-pound Hickman, a converted catcher, compiled a 9-2 record with a 2.99 earned-run average in 84 1/3 innings this past season. He made first-team all-Big Ten and became Iowa’s first all-American since 1999.
Hickman was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 Major League Draft by the Chicago White Sox, his favorite team while growing up on the south side of Chicago. Hickman’s fastball has been clocked at 97 miles per hour, although, he lost some velocity near the end of the season.
7. Tyler Peyton, baseball, jr., Grimes – He established himself as one of the top two-way players in college baseball this past season after transferring from junior college. He led Iowa with a .337 batting average and also had a 7-4 record as a starting pitcher. He was recognized for his versatility by being a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. He also received third-team all-America accolades.
8. Brandon Sorensen, wrestling, fr., Cedar Falls – He compiled a 40-6 overall record and became the first Hawkeye since 1999 to win at least 40 matches in a season. His 40 victories were one shy of matching Ed Banach’s single-season freshman record.
Sorensen finished second at the Big Ten Championships and fourth at the NCAA Championships. He had a 13-1 dual record, including 8-0 in the Big Ten.
9. Matt Hagan, tennis, sr., Omaha, Neb. – He was named his team’s most valuable player after a season in which he became Iowa’s 18th first-team all-Big Ten recipient and the first since 2009. The 6-6 Hagan recorded nine singles victories while playing No. 1 singles, defeating two ranked opponents. He also climbed to as high as No. 79 in the national singles rankings.
10. Carl Davis, football, sr., Detroit – The 6-5, 315-pounder was the anchor to Iowa’s defensive line in each of the past two seasons. He was named second-team all-Big Ten by both the coaches and media last season. The Baltimore Ravens selected Davis in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft and with the 90th pick overall.
Honorable mention: Austin Blythe, football; Addison Boschult, swimming and diving; Jack Boyle, gymnastics; Brian Bullington, golf; Mike Evans, wrestling; Thomas Gilman, wrestling; Nick Hibbing, baseball; Raymond Knoll, golf; Kevin Lewis, cross country; Calvin Mathews, baseball; Gabe Olaseni, basketball; Bobby Telford, wrestling; Eric Toole, baseball; Louis Trinca-Pasat, football; Jarrod Uthoff, basketball.