The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa offensive lineman Rusty Feth sports a loud look and a calm demeanor

The fifth-year Hawkeye transfer from Miami Ohio has brought invaluable experience to the left guard position.
Grace Smith
Iowa offensive lineman Rusty Feth walks off the field after the 2023 Wildcats Classic, a football game between Iowa and Northwestern at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 10-7.

Iowa offensive lineman Rusty Feth is comfortable in his own skin, or more aptly put, hair. 

The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder from Colerain, Ohio, stands out in a crowd not just due to the size of his body but also the mass of red hair around his chin. 

The fifth-year and what he calls his “big, ugly beard” have been linked together since his freshman year at Miami of Ohio, forming an iconic visage that Feth proudly wore as a T-shirt at his media availability earlier this year. 

“I just said, ‘Screw it, I’m not going to cut it,’ and I just got to where it is now, and I can’t picture myself without it,” Feth said of his beard. “So maybe my wedding someday, but other than that, there’s nothing that’ll make me cut it.” 

Transferring from Miami Ohio to Iowa this past offseason, Feth’s arrival to the Hawkeye offensive line room has been a welcoming one as the veteran not only brings his trademarked mug but also experience and composure on the field. 

Before the beard, Feth was a preseason all-state first-teamer as a senior at Colerain High School and was part of an offensive front that guided the Cardinals to a state title appearance in 2018. Committing to Miami Ohio in March of that year, he started the final six games of his first season with the RedHawks, being named one of the team’s Offensive Newcomers of the Year. 

Following a COVID-19-shortened season in which he started three games, Feth started 25 straight games at center in his final two years, earning second-team All-MAC honors in 2022. After a 24-20 loss to UAB in the Bahamas Bowl in December, Feth entered the transfer portal the next month. 

It didn’t take the offensive lineman long to find a familiar face, and eventually a new home, in Iowa City. Hawkeye offensive line coach George Barnett was Feth’s position coach in 2019 and 2020, and the coach gave him a call once Feth hit the portal. After that conversation, Feth traveled westward on an official visit to campus. He committed to the Hawkeyes the following morning. 

“It was pretty smooth, honestly,” Feth said of his transition. “I didn’t have much other thought, and I didn’t want to chase the stuff maybe some other guys chase. I wanted a program that takes great pride in the program, just good people, and that’s exactly what I got.” 

According to Barnett, Feth’s 34-career starts brought invaluable experience and helped his offensive line teammates “up the investment” in how they approach the game. 

“The way he carries himself and acts in the room, that’s huge,’ Barnett said of Feth. “When you have tough days, tough plays, he’s real steady.” 

Hawkeye center Logan Jones agrees with Barnett’s assessment, explaining how Feth brings “a lot of leadership,” and is a role model for his teammates. According to Jones, while other guys are “super anxious and bouncing around” before a game,  Feth will “float around” and have a short-term memory on the gridiron.

“In the game of football, you can get in your head, saying, ‘Oh, I suck. I messed up this play,’” Jones said. “But [Feth’s] calm. He understands you have to shake the play off and get out for the next play.” 

At Iowa playing against Big Ten competition, Feth said opponents are a lot stronger and faster than non-Power Five foes but added he had great preparation in the preseason taking reps against the Hawkeyes’ defensive line. 

Starting his first game in Week 5 against Michigan State, Feth made his debut at left guard, his first of seven starts this season. Even in a new position, Feth’s physicality has stood out just as much as his mentality.

 “He’s a calm dude, cool, collected, but at the same time he’s a physical dude,” Jones said of Feth. “You’ve seen him, he’s a tough-looking, great dude. That’s what he brings to this offense, just that grittiness and demeanor to him.” 

Amidst all the praise Feth has received from coaches and teammates for propelling the offensive line forward with his exemplary leadership, the former two-star recruit keeps a humble perspective about his new situation in Iowa City. 

 “It’s not like I come here every day, and I’m the reason we’re getting better. It’s not like that at all,” Feth said. “I’ve come in here and from what I’ve seen, the guys are dedicated and work really hard … It’s been great for me and everyone else … Just to come here and play football, meet the guys, and make friendships; that’s really what it’s all about.” 

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.