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Relentless pursuit: UNI's Jared Brinkman leads with relentless approach
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UNI FOOTBALL

Relentless pursuit: UNI's Jared Brinkman leads with relentless approach

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CEDAR FALLS – Go ahead and try to double team UNI defensive tackle Jared Brinkman.

It doesn’t matter. He’s still going to find a way to make plays on the football field.

If it seems like the standout All-American has been in Cedar Falls forever, he has. Just ask the frustrated defensive coordinators of Northern Iowa opponents.

Their game plan revolves around neutralizing the 6-foot-2, 290-pound senior. But Brinkman figures out a way to be effective.

You simply can’t stop the high-energy Brinkman.

“Jared is relentless, he’s passionate, and he plays the game with a motor and intensity you have to play with to be great,” UNI coach Mark Farley said. “He is great at creating leverage and he is really hard to block. Jared has been effective every year he has been here against the best teams we’ve played because of his consistency. He continues to improve because of how committed he is – he works hard 365 days a year.”

Brinkman led the Missouri Valley Football Conference with nine tackles for loss this past spring. He also had three quarterback hurries and forced two fumbles.

He’s the anchor of a strong and experienced defense that yielded just 15 points per game last season.

“Jared is a great leader who just loves to play football,” UNI defensive coordinator Jeremiah Johnson said. “He’s so strong and always commands a double team. When that happens, a linebacker goes unblocked. Jared creates opportunities for other players on our defense to make plays.”

Brinkman, who earned all-state honors for prep powerhouse Iowa City Regina, was a consensus first team All-American for Northern Iowa this past season.

“It’s awesome to be back out here playing football again,” Brinkman said. “It’s really exciting to have all of our starters back. Everything didn’t go quite how we wanted in the spring, but every game we were right there. We know we can be one of the top teams – we just have to put in the work.”

UNI is picked to finish fifth in a loaded Missouri Valley Football Conference after going 3-4 during the abbreviated spring season. Their four losses were by a total of 15 points.

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“We play in the best conference in the country,” Brinkman said. “We just have to play hard for four quarters and not let up. We know it’s going to be a challenge every week, but we will be ready for it. I’m looking forward to this season.”

Brinkman is the type of player who could make an impact on the next level.

“Coach (Bryce) Paup has done a great job developing Jared and I hope he gets a shot (at the NFL),” Johnson said. “NFL scouts will say he’s not very tall. But if they put on the film and watch Jared play, they will have a hard time not talking to him. He’s a lot better athlete than people give him credit for. He’s quick and he’s very hard to block.”

Brinkman has kept his pro prospects in the proper perspective.

“I’ve loved my time here at UNI,” he said. “If the opportunity comes up to play in the NFL, that’s great. If not, I’m going to give it my all this year and let whatever happens happen.

“(The NFL) is always a dream. Playing college football, that’s been a dream of mine for a lot longer. I’m going to enjoy the moment and see where it takes me.”

Brinkman saw two of his teammates, including third-round pick Spencer Brown, selected in the NFL draft this past spring. Brown, an offensive tackle, was chosen by the Buffalo Bills.

“It’s been great seeing my teammates make it to that level,” he said. “They worked hard and they deserve it. It’s great to see them having success and I hope they carry it over to the next level.”

Brinkman is in his final semester at Northern Iowa and he is on track to earn his degree in physical education and administration in December. He hopes to become an athletic director.

For now, his focus is squarely on the season opener Sept. 4 at Iowa State. The Cyclones outlasted the visiting Panthers in triple-overtime in their last meeting in 2019.

ISU is ranked No. 8 nationally in the preseason at the NCAA Division I level. UNI is No. 21 in the FCS.

“Having a chance to face Iowa State, I love it,” Brinkman said. “They’re a great team. We get a chance to go in there and play in front of a full stadium of fans. It’s going to be awesome playing in an atmosphere like that. At the end of the day, it’s going to be two good football teams lining up against each other. We’re going to make it a physical battle. We’re really excited. It should be a fun game.”

Brinkman and his teammates are eager for the opening-week test against a loaded Cyclone team that includes three preseason All-Americans.

“We were a young team when we played them two years ago,” he said. “We return a lot of guys who played in that game and Iowa State still has a lot of guys who played in that game. You’ve got to play four tough quarters and maybe more. We went three overtimes and they got us at the end. This year, it’s a new story. I can’t wait to line up against them and give it our all.”

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