By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Interviewing Iowa defensive lineman Brady Reiff is sort of like traveling back in recent time to when his older brother played football for the Hawkeyes.
Brady Reiff shows little emotion and has little to say about himself when interacting with the media.
His older brother, Riley Reiff, was the same way, humble and shy.
In fact, Riley once stopped an interview with the Iowa media after answering only two or three questions. Reporters were just getting warmed up when Riley calmly said that was enough. The former All-Big Ten offensive lineman, who now plays for the Minnesota Vikings, then walked away leaving reporters dumbfounded.
Brady Reiff has yet to stop an interview, but much like his older brother, Brady is a young man of few words.
Brady doesn’t come off as being standoffish or aloof. He just doesn’t seem comfortable talking about himself.
Brady was among a select group of Iowa players who attended this past Tuesday’s press gathering at the Iowa Football Complex. The fourth-year junior-to-be from Parkston, S.D., stayed for as long as reporters had questions to ask, but hardly basked in the spotlight.
Brady Reiff makes the media work for his thoughts and insight, much like his older brother did while playing for the Hawkeyes from 2009 to 2011.
But it’s sort of refreshing, even for a reporter trying to provoke thought, to interview somebody who doesn’t seem to have any self-absorbedness.
Brady seemed the most comfortable when talking about Reese Morgan’s influence on him.
In addition to being Brady’s primary recruiter in high school, Morgan is also his position coach at Iowa
“He’s just super old school and I like that,” Brady Reiff said of the 67-year old Morgan. “He cares about the players first and it’s not always about football. He wants us to grow as persons, too. And I really respect the way he coaches guys and brings them along.”
Of course, Brady, also respects his older brother, who is preparing for his seventh season in the NFL.
Riley Reiff was so accomplished at Iowa that he skipped his senior season to enter the 2012 NFL Draft where he was selected in the first round and with the 23rd pick overall by the Detroit Lions.
Riley came to Iowa Iowa as a defensive lineman, but switched to the offensive line where he became a star. Riley sometimes gives his younger brother tips and advice on how to compete against offensive linemen.
"Every once in a while he'll see the games on TV and he'll just take a little video and send me a clip and say something," Brady said of his brother. "Or he'll say send me a few clips and he'll give me some feedback on that."
Riley’s success as a Hawkeye was a factor in Brady picking Iowa. But Brady's decision mostly came down to the culture under Kirk Ferentz and the people responsible for building the culture at Iowa.
“Him coming here, I think that was obviously one of the biggest things,” Brady said of his brother. “But I fell in love with the coaches and the program and just the way they ran things.
“So that’s ultimately why I came here.”
Brady Reiff also came to play some football, and though it took some time and a position switch from defensive end, he figures to have a key role this coming season at defensive tackle. He is listed as a starter in the spring prospectus after appearing in all 13 games last season.
That is due mostly to Matt Nelson being out for spring practice because of an injury. But regardless if Brady starts, he should be a factor at defensive tackle.
He now carries about 275 pounds on a 6-foot-3 frame, which is small compared to his older brother, and to most Big Ten defensive tackles. But Brady compensates with toughness, quickness and the ability to gain leverage as a former star wrestler in high school in South Dakota.
Brady is working especially hard this spring on defending the run, which is one, if not the main responsibility, for a defensive tackle.
“That’s always what Iowa’s defense is kind of built on,” Brady said. “So that’s one thing we always want to pride our defensive line on, coming off the ball and being tough up front.”
Brady Reiff has gained nearly 50 pounds since he became a Hawkeye. His move inside to tackle makes sense because of Iowa’s depth at defensive end where four experienced players return.
Iowa also has to replace three-year starter Nathan Bazata at defensive tackle. Bazata is similar to Brady Reiff in that he is also shy and humble, but Bazata came to college more ready to play defensive tackle, whereas Brady has had to turn himself into a defensive tackle.
“Bazata is a thicker guy,” said Iowa assistant defensive line coach Kelvin Bell. “Brady came in here at 235 pounds and had to build himself to what you’re seeing now. Bazata came in here a solid 280. And both of them have a wrestling background. So I guess that would be similar.
“Brady didn’t come in here innately as a defensive lineman. He was a stand-up outside linebacker in high school, so he’s still learning the position. Bazata has been a nose tackle since the day he was born. So what Brady still is learning, Bazata was further ahead in that regard.”
Brady Reiff switched positions about 18 months ago, so the transition ended a long time ago.
"I should be settled in," he said.
Brady just needed some time to grow into the position, and now that's happened, although, he still wants to get bigger in order to handle life in the Big Ten trenches.
Fatigue shouldn't be a problem due to having four defensvie tackles with game experience.
"I think it helps to have fresh bodies out there," Brady said.
It also helps to have players whose actions speak louder than words.
Riley Reiff was that kind of player at Iowa, and his younger brother is now the same way, quiet, but confident.