At times, C.J. Fiedorowicz has struggled to remain patient.
The past three years haven’t always been easy for the Iowa senior tight end, producing a series of hardships that the former Johnsburg standout has been forced to play through. Even during a current stretch of 19 games in which Fiedorowicz has caught at least one pass, finding success has remained – at least for the most part – elusive.
Yet, Fiedorowicz presses on, believing his career with the Hawkeyes, even after a season-opening loss to Northern Illinois last weekend, can finish on a high note. Like his first three years in Iowa City, he understands he may have to wait for the desired result.
Last year’s 4-8 record was hard enough to stomach. Despite putting together his most productive season individually, Fiedorowicz endured Iowa’s six-game losing streak to end the season. The rough patch pushed him to work hard in the offseason, understanding he would be part of Iowa’s core of senior leadership embattled coach Kirk Ferentz would look to to help right the ship.
Then came a 30-27 loss to NIU, a setback that left Fiedorowicz and his teammates with a bitter taste in their mouths.
“That game didn’t really tell us as a team what we’re all about,” he said this week. “It’s hard to determine a team after one game, but we’ve got a lot more to show.”
The work-in-progress mentality has been a common theme for Fiedorowicz, who worked his way into a starting job after starting his career buried on the depth chart. As a freshman in 2010, he found difficulty in having to wait his turn and with being away from his Johnsburg home.
As a three-sport athlete with the Skyhawks, Fiedorowicz had grown accustomed to playing a defining role in helping shape his team’s success. But now, playing at the Big Ten level, he learned to bide his time, waiting for his opportunity to show what kind of contributions he could make.
During the toughest stretches, Fiedorowicz relied on his friends and family to stay grounded. As one of 10 Iowa players who saw time as true freshmen, he realized he wasn’t the only one having to deal with sitting on the bench for the first time in their athletic careers.
Still, it wasn’t easy.
“You put in all that work year-round and you just kind of feel like your team really doesn’t need you,” he said. “But I knew my time was going to come. I just had to stay patient and wait it out.”
Fiedorowicz’s coaches told him to stay the course. Ferentz, who drew the highly touted former receiver and safety to Iowa, understood Fiedorowicz’s frustrations, but has seen the senior play through them en route to becoming a big part of the Hawkeyes’ offense.
“[Fiedorowicz] came in with a lot of hype – that’s one of the dangers of all the recruiting hype,” Ferentz told reporters this summer. “These guys are still first-year players. Let them be first-year players, let them grow. You’re not afforded that luxury when you’re highly recruited. He progressed, he’s improved. I’m hoping to see his best football this fall.”
Fiedorowicz made a career-high 45 catches last year, including a team-high eight in a loss at Michigan. He ranked third among Iowa receivers in receptions, continuing to build toward what he expects to be another productive fall during his final season at Iowa. He had two catches – including one for a touchdown – in the loss to NIU.
After putting 25 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame over the past three years to get up to 265 pounds, Fiedorowicz has drawn the attention of NFL scouts, who project him as a second or third-round draft pick. But with at least 11 games remaining in his career, Fiedorowicz is not yet ready to start looking too far into his future.
He doesn’t get too wrapped up in his draft stock or where football could take him after this season, choosing instead to remain focused on helping the Hawkeyes win as much as possible before this chapter of his career ends.
And like he always has, Fiedorowicz knows it won’t be an easy road.
“Nothing comes to you without hard work,” Fiedorowicz said. “Nothing is just going to come to you ... but I’m just concentrated on this year and having fun with the guys this one last year.”