TAMPA, Fla. — Matt Nelson and Anthony Nelson were too tall. Miles Taylor and Jaleel Johnson were too timid. That left Iowa seniors LeShun Daniels and Desmond King to save the day at the Falcon’s Fury.
North America’s tallest free-standing drop tower stands 335 feet high. Participants are lifted to that amazing height and then dropped about 200 feet at about 60 miles per hour. It has a height limit of 77 inches, and the Nelsons exceed it by at least 2 inches. Johnson and Taylor had no interest in participating, but Daniels and King did so without reservation.
“I felt like I was about to slip out of the seat,” King said. “I prayed to God that me and LeShun would make it down safely.”
“Roller coaster, yeah. But that drop, nah, couldn’t do it,” Johnson said. “I’m terrified of heights.”
Those six Iowa players, along with six Florida players, were slated to participate in a pair of Outback Bowl-related activities at Busch Gardens on Wednesday afternoon. After the Falcon’s Fury, the Iowa players participated in Serengeti’s Safari, where they hand-fed lettuce to giraffes.
A giraffe named Cupid hounded Johnson, who kept feeding the animal. Cupid covered Johnson’s hand with saliva, which he passed on to his teammates and Taylor in particular.
“It was way too slimy,” Johnson said. “Their tongues are like 100 feet long.
“Cupid was the one that like me the most. Go figure, right? Cupid?”
Johnson added that the players consider this week a business trip, but they enjoyed the afternoon break away from football.
“It gives us time to recover but it also gives us time to really enjoy Tampa,” Johnson said. “Being in Iowa we don’t really get to see stuff like this.”
Iowa will play Florida in the Outback Bowl at 1 p.m. ET on Monday (ABC).