From walk-on to workhorse. That’s what they’d call the Mark Weisman story in Hollywood. Or at least they should if the Mark Weisman story is ever made into a major motion picture.
A Stevenson High School product, Weisman walked on to the Iowa Hawkeyes after transferring from Air Force back in 2010. After sitting out the following season, head coach Kirk Ferentz has done little else besides instruct his quarterbacks to turn around and hand Weisman the ball. And it’s worked out pretty well, too. In 23 games over the past two seasons, Weisman has 386 rushing attempts for 1,790 yards and 16 touchdowns. His 227 carries last season ranked fourth in the Big Ten.
Not bad for a kid from Buffalo Grove who wanted to join the Air Force.
“It’s not the clear way you usually go into a place after transferring, you walk on. I played fullback, which I love to do, and then I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to play running back and just ran with it,” Weisman said Monday at Big Ten Media Day, likely with no pun intended. “It’s been a great journey so far, still one more year left. It’s gone by way too fast. I’m just trying to make the best of my last year.”
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Before starting that last year in Iowa City, Weisman was back in his home city on Monday. He showed his teammates around, which included a dinner stop at Gino’s East — which 320-pound offensive lineman Brandon Scherff described as “fantastic.”
But Weisman is helping his offensive lineman in more ways than just adding a pizza’s worth of extra weight. Scherff has gained some Internet fame of late for his ability to lift weights. Turns out Weisman has something to do with that, too.
“He’s the one that pushed me in the weight room, too,” Scherff said. “When he came in, he was squatting just as much as me, and I wanted to just compete with him. We measure how fast we move the bar. Mark was doing the same thing I was. It was great competition. He pushes me, and I try to do the same for him.”
The Hawkeyes as a whole will be looking to Weisman for leadership and running ability this season. The expectations in Iowa City are big after Iowa went 8-4 a season ago. Weisman is obviously a talented rusher, but it’s that leadership mentality that the Hawkeyes truly covet. More carries, fewer carries. It doesn’t matter to him.
“Just help the team any way possible. Whether that means taking tons of carries or not as many carries, it doesn’t really matter to me,” he said. “As long as we’re producing out there, whatever’s best for the team is the only thing that matters.”
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Weisman will do whatever it takes, and he can rest easy knowing that his coach wants him to be a featured player in the Hawkeyes’ quest for the Big Ten West Division title this season.
“There's a lot of different ways to be successful. And Mark I think plays within his skill set,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Does a great job of that, very much team oriented. And I think, again, the good thing with our running-back situation as opposed to two years, we have a chance to use him a little bit more judicially this year. So hopefully we can do a better job keeping him fresh throughout the entire season so he can play at a level where he's fully effective.”
Mark Weisman walked on at Iowa after arriving from Stevenson via the Air Force Academy. Now he’s the Hawkeyes’ workhorse in the backfield. From walk-on to workhorse: the Mark Weisman story.