Iowa defensive back Brandon Snyder crosses the goal line after returning an interception for an 89 yard touchdown during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45 to 16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Snyder bounces back after ACL injury

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By Pete Ruden

peter-ruden@uiowa.edu

It’s been fewer than six months since Brandon Snyder tore his ACL in the spring, but for anyone watching him play on Oct. 7, that was not apparent.

Snyder had an outstanding return to the gridiron, racking up 3 tackles, 2 pass breakups, and a huge 89-yard Pick-6 to boost Iowa in its 45-16 Homecoming win over Illinois.

In the third quarter, the Hawkeyes were beating the Illini 17-13, but Illinois was threatening at the Iowa 22. An Illini touchdown certainly would have turned the tide of the game.

But Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr. overthrew his intended target and put the ball right into Snyder’s hands. Thanks to some good blocks, he raced 89 yards to score his first career touchdown.

“It’s just a really cool moment, just to run into a stand full of Iowa fans,” Snyder said. “It’s a great way to come back, that’s for sure.”

He arrived on the scene as a starter last season, taking over for team captain Jordan Lomax at free safety.

After an impressive 2016 season in which he led the team with 3 forced fumbles and shared the team lead with 3 interceptions, Snyder was set to be one of only two returning starters in a secondary that was a strength of last year’s team.

RELATED: Alumni come home to Hawkeye win

Then injury struck. Many thought Snyder was going to miss the entire season, but he never wavered.

Jake Gervase and Amani Hooker did a solid job in taking over for Snyder, but there’s something about his presence that changes the complexion of the Hawkeye defense.

“I love Brandon. He represents what we stand for as a program. He does everything right,” running back Akrum Wadley said. “Every game he wasn’t in uniform, I could see it in his eyes how badly he wanted to go out there. For him to stay true to his game, just keep going, and he had a great day, so we’re all proud.”

Many Hawkeye defensive backs raved about Snyder even when he wasn’t on the field. While rehabbing, he stayed by his group’s side, serving as a leader while helping the secondary succeed.

Snyder used his absence to teach his teammates, but he isn’t the only one.

Impressed by his play and comeback ability after such a debilitating injury, head coach Kirk Ferentz is prepared to use the story in the future.

“For him to get back on the field in such a short amount of time like that, that’s remarkable,” Ferentz said. “Then for him to give us the spark he did today, that’ll be a great teaching moment for anybody that has an injury.”

It was originally a devastating injury, but after grinding away and preparing to get back, Snyder made the most of his opportunity. However, he credits more than just himself.

“I’m a big believer in my faith, and I’m a big believer in God, and I think that He created this and it’s from Him, and I believe that He’s the One who got me through it,” Snyder said. “I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do it day after day if it weren’t for my faith.”

Click below for more photos

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz talks with Illinois head coach Lovie Smith before an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Former Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, waves to the crowd before the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

A C-130 flies over Kinnick Stadium before the start of the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

UI graduate student Charles Martin-Stanley II raises a fist in protest to police brutality during the national anthem during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  Martin-Stanley II said he supports veterans and the troops, but was protesting in solidarity his brothers. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz places his hand on his heart for the national anthem before the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa cheerleader pulls an "I" flag through the air during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Illinois running back Reggie Corbin runs the ball during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive players watch a fumbled ball during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa fans wave to children in the Stead Family Children's Hospital after the first quarter during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadlewy is tackled during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa kicker Miguel Recinos kicks a field goal in the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive back Brandon Snyder crosses the goal line after returning an interception for an 89 yard touchdown during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Fans watch the action during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley tosses a ball to an official after scoring a touchdown during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz congratulates quaterback Nate Stanley during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa cheerleaders during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Illinois running back Reggie Corbin attempts to shed a tackle from Iowa defensive back Brandon Synder during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson goes in motion during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz calls a timeout during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa fan gestures during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Illinois quarterback Jeff George, Jr. throws a pass while being chased down by Iowa defensive end Chauncey Golston during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell attempts to block a pass during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Illinois quarterback Jeff George, Jr. avoids a sack during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive back Geno Stone smiles on the sideline after recovering an onside kick during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Illinois head coach Lovie Smith reacts during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa wide receiver Nick Easley gets pushed out of bounds during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Illinois quarterback Jeff George, Jr. throws an interception during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

A young Iowa fan takes a drink during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa quarterback Tyler Wiegers looks at his wide receiver during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Ivory Kelly-Martin catches a touchdown pass during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Ivory Kelly-Martin celebrates with teammates after catching a touchdown pass during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa players celebrate a touchdown during the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Alumni Marching band members play after a touchdown during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz high-fives a fan after an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa fan high-fives players after an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

 

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