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josey jewell rose bowl 122716

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, right, breaks away from Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell during last year’s Rose Bowl game.

IOWA CITY — Josey Jewell finds himself in familiar territory as the NFL draft approaches.

The Iowa linebacker has had to prove himself — again.

He doesn’t view it as being any different from when college recruiters overlooked the all-state linebacker during his career at Decorah High School, a time when Hawkeye assistant Reese Morgan convinced coach Kirk Ferentz that Jewell was worthy of a late scholarship offer from Iowa.

It’s similar to when he showed up at Iowa, having to prove his abilities as he looked for a chance to compete.

Four years later, the consensus All-American is back at it, working to prove the doubters wrong and determined to show NFL scouts that his game is ready for the next level.

“At the end of the day, it’s whether you’re a football player or not,” Jewell said.

Jewell proved that at the collegiate level, named the Big Ten defensive player of the year after leading the conference with 136 tackles last season.

He’s spent the months since Iowa’s Pinstripe Bowl victory over Boston College being poked, prodded and performing whatever task was laid in front of him.

Jewell was less than enamored with his time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February, and he trimmed that 4.82-second timing in Indianapolis to 4.68 seconds a month later during Iowa’s Pro Day with scouts from 31 NFL teams looking on.

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“I don’t know if it was anything I did. I think it was just that I ran a good time at the right time,” Jewell said.

Jewell has spent the past few weeks visiting with any NFL team that wanted to talk with him.

He’s made site visits and continues to look forward to learning where the next chapter of his football career will play out.

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Jewell is generally projected as a mid-round choice in this year’s draft, which begins April 26 in Arlington, Texas.

“It’s been hard to get a read on what teams are thinking,” Jewell said. “I’m sure teams put varying degrees of importance on the measureable things compared to what they see on tape and what they’re able to learn as they prepare.”

The recent track record of Hawkeye linebackers Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens in the NFL doesn’t hurt.

“When you play for Iowa, you are prepared to compete at the next level,” Jewell said. “Coach (Kirk) Ferentz’s program has a good reputation when you talk with NFL people, and that reputation only helps.”

At the end of the day, Jewell understands that he must prove himself on his own all over again.

“I’ve been through it before. I know what I’m capable of, and I know what I can bring to an NFL team,” Jewell said. “I just need a team that is willing to give me that chance.”

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