Marshal Yanda received his first scholarship offer from the Iowa State Cyclones in the month of October after making an official visit to Ames to watch the Cyclones host Texas A&M. At the time, he felt that he was headed to Iowa State, which did not bother him a whole lot. Yet, in his heart he knew that he belonged in Iowa City.
Raised just 40 minutes from the Iowa campus in Anamosa, Yanda grew up a Hawkeye fan.
"I've been a Hawkeye fan my entire life, and I grew up wanting to be a Hawkeye," said Yanda. "That has driven me up to this point playing football in trying to earn a scholarship to be an Iowa Hawkeye."
Yanda asked NIACC head coach Dave Gillispie, the running back coach at Nebraska under Frank Solich, to contact the Iowa coaches to see if there was interest. The Iowa coaches requested film on Yanda, and after it was sent, Iowa immediately let Yanda know that they were interested.
"I drove down to Iowa City the Sunday after their game against Illinois. I sat down with Coach Ferentz, and he told me that Iowa was very interested in me. I spent that entire Sunday afternoon going through team meetings and watching film with both the coaches and players. I still wasn't sure if they were interested enough to make an offer, or a strong attempt to get me to walk-on," said Yanda.
Yanda never stopped working to become a Hawkeye, but like many Hawkeye Nation readers, he felt that the odds were slim that Iowa was going to offer a junior college offensive lineman.
"It didn't seem to fit the stature of their program," said Yanda, who will graduate in December. "They were bringing some big-time high school offensive lineman in the program. They are known for developing lineman so I was really in doubt on just how well I'd have to perform in order for them to give me a look."
The Hawkeye coaches took further time after the Illinois game to evaluate film, and make a staff decision. The decision was made that, despite being a junior college offensive lineman, Marshal Yanda was just good too pass in the Class of 2005.
"I called Coach Ferentz last Sunday morning after he had left a message earlier in the week, and he asked me to come down to Iowa City at 5 p.m., " the 6-foot-6, 315-pound offensive lineman said. "When I got down there, he sat me in his office and first told me he was impressed after viewing my film. He told me that they were offering me a scholarship, and I pretty much accepted on the spot."
There was just one catch; his transcripts had to be cleared by the registrars office before the commitment could be accepted.
"My transcripts were cleared this morning (Wednesday), and I spoke with Coach (Reese) Morgan to confirm my commitment. They told me they liked my aggressiveness, my physical style of play and the way I get after it on the field. What I was most impressed about was the fact they didn't make me any promises on whether I'd redshirt or what position I'd play. They just said they were interested, offered me a scholarship, and were excited to have me be a part of the team. The only importance is that now it's time to get down to business," Yanda said.
Yanda believes it was the past summer that provided the biggest help in his improvement to warrant a scholarship offer from the Hawkeyes.
"I stayed here in Mason City and lifted three days a week and ran twice a week. I played last year at 280, and after this summer, I reported into camp at 314. I really busted my butt, including taking 16 credit hours of classes during the summer. It really made me work, and it helped me improve so much. I saw the biggest difference in my game from year one to year two, and it mostly in my explosion," Yanda said.
North Iowa Area Community College strength coach Denny Honnold echoes those sentiments.
"Marshal worked very hard in the off-season busting his butt, and became way more explosive," Honnold said. "He brought in that brute farm strength his first year, and adding the explosion really gave him overall dominance in his game. He is a student of the game, and he is always coming up to me to ask me about exercises he can be doing to get better."
By now, you might have wondered if we made a typo with how we have been reporting the spelling of Marshal Yanda's first name…
"Yes, my first name is spelled with only one ‘l'. I never really tell anyone just to not create a hassle, but I guess I'll let you start the trend of getting it right." Marshal Yanda joked.