Hesse Handles Job with Ott Injured
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa fans cringed at the thought of an injury knocking out starting quarterback C.J. Beathard before the season. No offense to back-up Tyler Wiegers, but no one was anxious to see a redshirt freshman lead n unit seeking significant improvement from a year ago.
Not a lot of attention was given to the idea of losing perhaps the best player on the other side of the ball. But Defensive End Drew Ott’s backup also only was in his second year on campus.
Well, the former scenario hasn’t been realized. The latter one hit in Week 2 when Ott left the Iowa State game with an elbow injury. He was limited against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Parker Hesse has answered the call in Ott’s stead. The Waukon (IA) High product started the Pitt game after filling in admirably for the last three quarters at Iowa State. Iowa won both contests.
"It’s a tremendous experience just getting your feet wet and getting out there," Hesse said. "It’s kind of stuff you have to go through to learn. I was lucky. I got to go through it right away and get it out of the way. So, from here on out, it’s just about getting better."
Hesse has been credited with six tackles (one for loss) and a sack. He also has one quarterback hurry on his ledger. He’s done a good job setting the edge for a defense ranked 5th nationally against the rush.
"Anytime you get in there, obviously, that’s the great thing about football, there’s always room for improvement," Hesse said. "Especially being a young player and inexperienced, there’s a lot I can work on. But I don’t feel as much pressure wise. It’s just go in there, do your job.
"No one expects anyone to fill everything that Drew brings to the table. He’s a special talent."
The 6-foot-3 240-pound Hesse arrived at Iowa as a linebacker. The coaches moved him up to end during bowl prep. He played quarterback and linebacker as a Waukon senior, when the team finished second in the state.
Ott’s injury isn’t the only reason Hesse found his way onto the field. He played throughout the season opener against Illinois State helping to keep the starter fresh on a hot day.
According to his high school roster, Hesse weighed 205 as a senior. The most recent Iowa roster showed him up 35 pounds.
"The initial weight gain always is hard," said linebacker Cole Fisher, who was a 6-3, 190-pound high school safety. "I had problems with that. but once you get over that just the natural athleticism that he has from being a quarterback helps him out with being a D-End."
Fisher, now listed at 236, likes what he sees from Hesse.
"He’s done a great job. He knows what he’s doing, which is really the most important thing. He’s doing a great job containing. It’s a little surprising because he’s so young but he’s done really well,’ Fisher said.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz recalled what Defensive Line Coach Reese Morgan told Hesse in during a December practice. It was just like playing linebacker but with your hand down on the ground.
Hesse continued to develop in the spring and solidified is spot as Ott’s back-up during August camp.
"The credit goes to him," Ferentz said. "He’s worked hard. He’s got a great attitude. He’s serious. He’s tough.
"He hasn’t gotten there yet, either, but we can see some good things down the road for him and he’s playing really hard out there."