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Monday, May 07, 2007

Yanda already a ‘hit’ with Ravens



Matt Palmer
May 7, 2007

Marshal Yanda, right, was drafted 86th overall by the Ravens with the hope he can be the team’s tackle of the future. Yanda earned second-team All-Big Ten honors at the University of Iowa last year.

Marshal Yanda is the reason youtube.com exists. When the Ravens selected the University of Iowa guard/tackle with the 86th overall pick in the NFL Draft April 28, fans of his new team — the Baltimore Ravens — went scrambling for any bit of information on the 6-feet-4, 310-pound lineman.

What they invariably found was known as “the hit,” a video showing Yanda leveling a mind-rattling block on Iowa State defensive end Rashawn Parker on a reverse run back by Iowa in a game last September.

Running to the right side of the field, Parker was caught unawares, his head snapped back and he fell to the ground and lay facedown for two minutes.

With that one play and with the video’s rewind factor the nasty Yanda endeared himself to Raven nation.

“We love his demeanor; he makes a good offensive lineman,” Eric DeCosta, the team’s director of college scouting, said after the team picked Yanda. “He could play guard or tackle, and he plays a physical style and looks to finish. Tony Pashos had that same quality and we lost him [to free agency in the offseason] and that’s something that’s attractive to your offensive line - to get that type of personality up front.”

The Ravens got their first chance to see the farm boy from Anamosa, Iowa at this past weekend’s rookie minicamp at the team’s Owings Mills facility. He was still answering questions about the hit on Parker months later.

“That’s the game of football,” Yanda said. “The fun is that physical-ness to the game, and I love being physical and playing football physical. I’m excited to do that, but… now it’s learning the system and learning the ropes.”

With just two offensive linemen present at minicamp, the team barely got to a chance to fully appreciate what Yanda could do.

Ravens head coach Brian Billick said it was “impossible” to draw conclusions on players at the light workouts.

Yanda, who because of academic issues in high school, attended and played for North Iowa Community College for the first two years of college. He was an All-Region selection and an honorable mention All-America as a sophomore, playing both left guard and right tackle.

When he moved on to Iowa, he gained the reputation of being a diverse lineman and earned second team All-Big Ten honors last year. With future Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden possibly retiring after next season, the team hopes Yanda and third-year right player Adam Terry could be the tackles of the future.

“We felt like, with the number of picks that we had on the second day, that moving back into the third round to get Yanda provided us with a guy that can now start to develop as a tackle, but can also play the offensive guard position,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

Yanda said he is eager to show people there is more to him than youtube glory.

“I’m really excited to be here, get working and contribute to the team,” Yanda said.

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