Farniok Has Come A Long Way Since First Fall Camp
AMES, Iowa –Tom Farniok has visions of sandbags when memories of his first fall camp in 2010 come up.
As he embarked on his initial practices as a Cyclone, Farniok expected the tough training conditions and the initial shock that all rookies go through when they enter college football for the first time. What he didn’t expect was the around the clock work of saving the facility he trained in from Mother Nature.
In early August of 2010, central Iowa was deluged with continuous storms and rain for three consecutive days. Finally on August 11th, the banks of the Skunk River and Squaw Creek crested at all-time highs, jeopardizing many of Iowa State’s athletics facilities.
Preparing for the 2010 football season was suddenly put on the backburner. Preserving its buildings became the No. 1 objective.
“What I remember mostly about it was how smart the veterans were,” Farniok said. “They didn’t want to sandbag all day then go through fall camp. They were like, ‘No way. I’m not doing that’. One of them got in his car and left and took a nap because they said if you weren’t here you didn’t have to worry about coming. His excuse was his car was almost out of gas so he had to go home. It was pretty funny. I wish I would have been smart enough to do that. I was a rookie, a big time rookie.”
Farniok is a rookie no longer. In fact, the two-time All-Big 12 center, and soon-to-be four-year starter, will be looked upon to be a leader of the 2014 Iowa State football team in his senior season. His experience – 35 career starts, the most of any current Cyclone – and toughness has been a valuable asset for the younger Cyclones.
The Sioux Falls, S.D., native has come a long way since his first fall camp.
“I remember one day in fall camp my first year where everyone on the line got a little tic-tack injury,” said Farniok. “Everyone went down so there was a day I took reps with the ones, twos, threes and then the freshmen reps. It was the hardest day of my life. I was just an undersized rookie lineman getting pounded by the ones and pounded by the twos. By the time I was with the threes, who I could actually compete with, I was so tired I got killed. It was the worst day of my life.”
Since his humble beginnings as a rookie, Farniok has matured into one of ISU’s best players. He’s also a strong contender to become a team captain in 2014.
“I think it would mean a lot,” Farniok said about being named a captain. “I’ve been a big leader for the past two years and it’s something I am striving for.”
Farniok won’t make excuses for last season, but you can’t hide from the fact that injuries decimated the offensive line. Farniok injured his knee in the season-opener vs. UNI and would be the first to admit he never fully recovered to 100 percent the entire season.
He wasn’t the only offensive lineman to be hit by the injury bug. Six different offensive lineman sat out an entire game because of an injury creating nine different offensive line combinations in 12 games.
Farniok wants to put the 2013 season in the past and he has help from first-year offensive line coach Brandon Blaney.
“It was horribly tough,” Farniok said. “It hurt because you are not able to play. No matter how good you are, you have a limited opportunity to take advantage of every chance you get. Not being able to be out there with your team and your friends was hard. You feel like you’re letting everyone down because you can’t go. Then when you’re playing hurt, you still feel like you’re letting people down.”
Blaney already has made quite an impact with Farniok.
“It’s awesome having a guy you know will have your back,” Farniok said. “The biggest thing he stresses is that we are in this together. If [he] ever gets mad or anything it’s because [he is] trying to get you better. It’s not a personal attack on you or anything.”
Farniok has already received his share of preseason honors, including a spot on the Rimington Award Watch List, an award given annually to the nation’s best center. He will have help in the trenches, too. Farniok is one of six returning offensive linemen for the Cyclones who started eight or more games last season (Jacob Gannon, Brock Dagel, Oni Omoile, Daniel Burton, Jamison Lalk).
He’s excited about going to battle with his teammates for one more season.
“It’s pretty cool to go into the year with guys like Gannon, who’s played next to you for four years now,” Farniok said. “It’s just cool being around the guys. You got a guy like Brock (Dagel), who started to play well throughout the year. Daniel (Burton) has as much potential as anyone in that room. He’s just a massive human and that’s exactly what NFL guys look for. He’s got the frame work, the ability to move, the build, the potential. He’s going to be pretty good when it’s all said and done.”
One thing Cyclone fans can count on next year is Farniok giving it his all on the gridiron every Saturday. We can also count on the crafty veteran for being fully prepared for fall camp. Let’s hope his days of sandbagging are over, too.