Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads spoke, but Reid Branderhorst’s ears had gone deaf amid the chaos.
“He looked right at me, then everything was a blur,” the walk-on tight end said. “I couldn’t hear it because my teammates were all on top of me and everything was going crazy.”
Rhoads’ momentous message delivered at the end of fall camp became clear — audible or not.
Branderhorst was finally on scholarship, partially fulfilling a once-lofty dream that guided the Fort Dodge native from Division III hoops to a dead heat with Kurt Hammerschmidt atop the ISU depth chart entering Saturday’s 6 p.m. season opener against Northern Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium.
But just how much life had changed for the better didn’t sink in until he went textbook shopping the next day.
“For once I didn’t have to pay, like, $600,” said Branderhorst, a 6-4, 242-pound senior who averaged 4.5 points and four rebounds in his two seasons with the Simpson Storm.
Instead of taking hits to his wallet, Branderhorst has taken to absorbing and delivering them on the field.