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Brandon Snyder making most of down time

Aug 10, 2017

By Marc Morehouse, The Gazette


IOWA CITY — Brandon Snyder’s 2017 football season ended before it started.

The Iowa junior safety suffered a torn ACL in spring practice. Never say never with the NCAA, but it’s highly unlikely Snyder will be able to get this season back. The fact he redshirted in 2014 goes against him.

Snyder knows this and this fact has driven him to rehab his left knee with the goal of returning at some point.

“Right now, I’m taking it day-by-day,” Snyder said. “You can project all you want and play that game, but it doesn’t really get you anywhere. It doesn’t help my knee heal. So right now today, I’m just focusing on what I can do today to strengthen my knee, work on my running and all of that. Hopefully at the end, at some point, I can come back. If not, that’s OK.

“It’s all about if I can help the team. If I can add value to the team, if I can help us win a game, then I’ll go out there and play. If it’s too early and I’m not doing any good, then I don’t want to be out there.”

Snyder said this with a hint of resignation. Defensive coordinator/secondary coach Phil Parker kind of did, too.

“I don’t know if anything is possible (as far as Snyder returning in 2017),” Parker said. “I’m obviously not a doctor, so I can’t really talk about that. I think he’s done a good job. He’ll know when he’s able to come back.”

All is not lost for Snyder. It’s not playing and being in the middle of the action, but he’s taking on a coaching/mentoring role in a defensive backs room that welcomed six newcomers when camp opened last week.

Snyder made mistakes early in his first season as a starter. He basically won the Rutgers game with a late strip and fumble recovery that led to Iowa’s winning TD in a 14-7 game. He missed a tackle against Northwestern that ended up in the end zone. The North Dakota State game was rough for everyone who played defense that day for the Hawkeyes.

Snyder’s numbers, however, trended up. Pro Football Focus gave him a neutral grade overall, positive against the run and negative against the pass. Snyder ended up fifth on the Hawkeyes with 21 defensive stops (“stops” are any instance where the primary tackler prevents an offensive success, defined by down and distance).

Snyder had ups and downs. There’s value in that experience, especially with three inexperienced safeties in the two-deep and six other freshmen defensive backs.

“It’s nice to have Snyder in there and be in the room,” Parker said. “He’s not always on the field practicing now, so he’s on the sideline and helping coach a little bit. He gives them ideas on what kind of process he went through in his first and second years. I think it’s helped him understand what we’re doing, too.”

Snyder has been more than happy to lend his voice and experience.

“When you’re out, your other senses pick up,” Snyder said. “You’re always gathering information. You learn a lot about the defense, but also different things you can pick up from offenses. It’s really been cool from the aspect of connecting with guys and coach them in different ways than Coach Parker.”

This will never be as good as playing for Snyder, but it’s a silver lining. It’s something that makes this an injury year and not an empty year.

“Obviously, Coach Parker has his way of coaching and it’s worked over the years,” Snyder said. “To be able to add a player perspective and what I’ve struggled with and what I’ve seen — a year’s worth of experience in the Big Ten — I try to get those mistakes to them so then they don’t have to go through it.”

Snyder, an open major, has been academic all-Big Ten the last two years. Is coaching something he would consider?

“Maybe a little bit, it’s been fun,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a unique experience and something I really appreciate.”

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