IOWA CITY, Iowa - This weekend’s NFL Draft is the start of a professional legacy for many college football players.
Iowa junior offensive tackle Jack Plumb in an exception. He might hear his name called in a draft somewhere down the road. But his NFL legacy already has deep roots. Plumb has emerged in the next wave of talent competing for a spot in Iowa’s offensive line, a position that NFL scouts keep a close eye on.
Coach Kirk Ferentz has seen 17 of his offensive linemen get drafted since 2003. Tackle Alaric Jackson could make it 18 this weekend.That list includes first-round picks Robert Gallery in 2004, Bryan Bulaga in 2010, Reilly Reiff in 2012, Brandon Scherff in 2015 and newly crowned Super Bowl champion Tristian Wirfs of Tampa Bay in 2020.
Back to Plumb, who has worked his way up after learning as an apprentice behind Wirfs and Jackson.
One of Jack’s grandfathers, Ted Plumb, was an NFL assistant coach for five different franchises. That included a stint as wide receivers and tight ends coach for the Chicago Bears during their run to the 1985 Super Bowl. Ted later worked as Director of Pro Scouting for the St. Louis Rams, bringing in key pieces to a 2000 Super Bowl championship team.
Jack’s other grandfather, the late Fritz Shurmur, was an NFL assistant coach for five different franchises. He was defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers during the 1996 Super Bowl championship season.
Jack’s second uncle, Pat Shurmur, is a former head coach of the New York Giants and is now offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos.
Jack’s parents, Susie and John, met first when their fathers were both assistant coaches for the Phoenix Cardinals in the early 1990s.
John Plumb considered a career in coaching. But that ended when he attended a team meeting with his dad. He is now a financial analyst for Shopko.
“He was so confused with the Xs and Os and he said, “Coaching is not for me, I’m going to stick to numbers which I’m good at,’ ” Jack said.
But there’s a good chance Jack will walk in the footsteps of his grandfathers when his playing days are over.
“I’m an Elementary Education major right now, and I want to get into coaching when I’m done,” he said.
‘But for the time being, Plumb is paying close attention to what new offensive line coach George Barnett is teaching in spring drills. Barnett replaced Tim Polasek, who left in February to become offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wyoming.
“Coach Polasek was intense and a rah-rah guy,” Plumb said. “Coach Barnett is calmer. But he still gets after you when he needs to. I really like Coach Barnett.”
Football has always been part of Plumb’s DNA. It started with his grandfathers. And growing up in Green Bay didn’t hurt.
“I was born and raised a Packers fan,” Jack said. “Football is huge in Green Bay. You’re a football player from day one, pretty much.”
Plumb was a four-year starter at Bay Port High School. He played on four straight playoff teams that had a 41-6 record during that span. He was also a 1,000-point scorer in basketball as a four-year letterman.
A tight end in high school, Plumb had five catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns as a senior and 10 catches for 200 yards and five touchdowns as a junior.
“We were more of a running school,” Plumb said. “But every once in a while I was able to go out on a pass and catch some touchdowns.”
Plumb’s blocking skills as a tight end were more valuable than his receptions in that run-first offense at Bay Port. Iowa was the first Big Ten school to offer Plumb a scholarship. Other suitors included Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan State and Arizona State.
Iowa’s coaching staff projected Plumb as an offensive lineman the whole time because of his mobility and length. Plumb stands 6 feet 7 inches tall.
Gallery is one of many Iowa players who made the switch from tight end to the offensive line at Iowa. Eric Steinbach, Bruce Nelson and Ike Boettger, now with the Buffalo Bills, are others. All four made it to the NFL.
Plumb made his first two college starts last season, against Nebraska and Illinois at right tackle. He shared that position with Coy Cronk and Mark Kallenberger. Plumb has now moved to left tackle to replace Jackson.
Things are going pretty good,” he said. “I’m focusing on a set of fundamentals that I can trust and carry into games with me.”
His grandfathers spend a good share of their professional lives in the film room, and that’s another way Plumb is elevating his game.
“You can take a lot from film, whether it’s good or bad,” he said.
A 245-pounder in high school, Plumb is now at 300.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger in the weight room,” he said. “I had a good winter. I’ve improved on all my maxes and gotten stronger and faster.”