The 13-year-old NFL veteran is the ninth former player to receive the honor.
Kirk Ferentz peeked out his office window at the Hansen Football Performance Center on Tuesday and recognized a familiar blue truck that belongs to one of the most distinguished Hawkeyes in recent memory.
“Old Blue,” as Ferentz calls it, is Marshal Yanda’s truck, and it’s the same vehicle former offensive lineman Hawkeye had during his time with the Iowa program from 2005 to 2006.
“If that truck wasn’t in the parking lot, it was snowmobiling, fishing, out of town, otherwise it was there to train,” Ferentz said.
Yanda is in Iowa City this week for the 10th annual America Needs Farmers Game, which aims to recognize the importance of farmers in Iowa and across the country. The two-time All-Big Ten first-team player is the ninth recipient of the ANF Wall of Honor recognition, which salutes former Iowa soccer players who exemplify tenacity, work ethic and the character of the Iowa farmer.
The fifth-generation dairy farmer was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and since retiring from a 13-year NFL career in 2020, he has helped his father on the Anamosa family farm.
Yanda was drafted in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft after his career in Iowa. He continued to play with the Baltimore Ravens in both custody and tackle in his eight Pro Bowl appearances, two first-team All-Pro nods and a spot on the Team. 2010s NFL decade.
The experience as a farmer, Yanda said, has been beneficial for his football career.
“When I was a kid, we did physical labor, which a lot of kids aren’t exposed to,” Yanda said. “As a soccer player I was pretty strong in the weight room, but people always talked about how strong I was on the farm. This natural strength, this core strength – that certainly came from the farm and the physical activity in every game.
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“I remember my dad milked cows, and my dad had guns back then because he worked on the farm.”
Yanda joined Ferentz’s program after playing two seasons at North Iowa Area Community College. Ferentz, an offensive line guru, had originally planned to redshirt Yanda when he joined the program.
It changed quite quickly.
“After about three days of training that spring, I was like, ‘This guy is our best lineman right now,'” said Ferentz. “It took me so long to understand.”
After his remarkable Hawkeye career, Yanda often returned to Iowa City during the offseason to train, as he preferred it to training alone. Current Iowa center Tyler Linerbaum remembers seeing Yanda in the weight room in his debut season in 2018 and how it felt to him.
“He was still working here,” Linderbaum said. “Watching his work ethic and how he attacked every day – that’s something we have to admire.”
Yanda retired because he didn’t want to risk playing another season and getting injured.
The last two seasons of Yanda’s professional career have gone injury-free, and Yanda said he’s never spent three consecutive seasons in the NFL without getting injured. Not wanting to risk going through any drug rehab again, Yanda chose to retire.
Yanda still misses playing on Sunday, even if it was against JJ Watt or Aaron Donald, who he said were the toughest defensive linemen he’s ever had to block. Since retiring, Yanda has lost 65 pounds. He has spent the last week harvesting with his father and spends most of his free time outdoors with his wife and three children.
The 2012 Super Bowl champion is in town ahead of Iowa’s No.3 showdown with No.4 Penn State. Yanda’s advice to the current Hawkeye squad preparing for such a big game is not to leave too much of the hype.
“The most important thing is to make sure that you don’t make this game bigger than another game on the schedule,” said Yanda. “You just have to take it one game at a time, one day at a time. “