Trey Creamer has a more measured attitude than most collegiate athletes and, frankly, most 20-year-olds in any walk of life. He's always seemed a no-nonsense football player, but, if anything, he appears to be even more focused than ever following his redshirt season at Iowa.
Always his own worst critic, Creamer did more than balance putting on weight while maintaining speed and learning defensive schemes during his first year with the Hawkeyes. He made it a point to improve his mental fortitude, allowing the cornerback to bounce back from mistakes — a must for any member of the secondary at a Power-5 school.
The Cartersville High Class of 2017 graduate has taken that same calculated approach and applied it to his chances of playing a significant role this coming fall.
After a solid spring, Creamer sits second on the Hawkeyes' depth chart at the left cornerback position — not too shabby for a redshirt freshman. Still, he doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself.
"Everything takes time," Creamer said. "I know some athletes take time to develop and it gives me a little bit of time to learn the system. I'm still learning, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to play Division-I football. I know many athletes don't get that same opportunity.
"I'm just working day in and day out to get better and ultimately play at the collegiate level. I'm still working to earn that starting spot. I know I'm No. 2 on the depth chart, but I'm trying to see more playing time in the fall."
Despite the modesty, Creamer did acknowledge how far he's come in just one year at Iowa, which actually opens its season Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois and former Adairsville quarterback Marcus Childers.
"We haven't really gotten into our camp mode, so I still have a lot of time to really develop and show how my skills have improved going from my redshirt year last year coming into this summer session," Creamer said. "I think I've improved a lot. I've learned the system. I've matured a lot too, so everything is getting better."
Part of his improvement has no doubt come from being put through a college weight-training program. Creamer said he's at 195 pounds after arriving Iowa City just under 170.
His work in the spring caught the attention of Marc Morehouse, who covers the Hawkeyes for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
"Iowa might have something in Trey Creamer," he tweeted in April. "Very sticky in coverage late in the scrimmage Friday night. Active tackler."
Creamer came to Iowa as a three-star recruit with a lot of major programs having offered him. One of the clear draws for the Hawkeyes would be getting to play under defensive coordinator Phil Parker, who also coaches the defensive backs.
He's been credited with helping the program churn out several top-notch DBs. According to the school's athletics website, three Hawkeyes have earned Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year honors in the last six seasons — Micah Hyde (2012), Desmond King (2015) and Josh Jackson (2017).
The one downside to the recent success at the position is that it creates a logjam of sorts in the secondary. Creamer said it's worth the competition to get the great coaching, which could see him perhaps join those other Iowa legends down the road.
"It's definitely amazing just to be at a major college institution where they do put out so many great defensive backs every year," Creamer said. "We just had a defensive back, Josh Jackson, that went early second round when a lot of people projected him to go first round, because of the way he contributed to the team this past fall and how he carried himself as a young man. Iowa really develops great young men. They want you to succeed as a young man more than on the football field. ...
"It's really great to be somewhere where so many defensive backs do get out. I can't wait for the opportunity, if it happens, to get my name called one day. I know I have a long way to go maturing and learning the game of football more, but it's exciting."
It will take a lot of growth and improvement in the coming seasons to see Creamer follow in the footsteps of those aforementioned greats, all of whom are currently on NFL rosters.
But considering the adjustments he had to go through as he sat out last season, while also living over 700 miles away from home, Creamer seems ready to take on any challenge.
"I had to get over a lot of things mentally," he said. "I don't feel like I was ever really homesick. There were some instances where I had some family issues, not super bad, where I needed to check on my family and I was too far away from home. That kind of bummed me out that I couldn't just get in a car and drive home and it take me like three to four hours when it would actually be 13 hours, because I'm in the Midwest now.
"Another big thing people are probably waiting on me to say is the weather. ... The weather is all over the place here. I finally made it through my first winter, and it wasn't as bad as people said it was [going to be]. I had a big winter coat, so I was able to make it."
As funny as some people might find that coat comment, Creamer said it as matter-of-factly as possible. It's that kind of straightforward thinking that has him in position to compete for playing time in his first season of eligibility.
Asked how excited he was for the upcoming season, Creamer, unsurprisingly, kept his stoic demeanor. It's clear that his No. 1 objective is helping his team, and that should be concerning to every school on Iowa's schedule.
"I try not to get my hopes too high," Creamer said. "Even though, I want to be super excited, but I know I still have a job to do. Anything can happen on any given day, like an injury. I'm really trying to stay level-headed, really just stay focused, take on everything a day at a time and just see what happens. ...
"I'm happy that I still have this opportunity, that I'm still here and that nothing has altered my ability to play college football. I just take every day as a blessing that I was able to get up that morning and do what I love to do. I'm ready for the season, but nothing is promised on any given day. I've just got be ready for whatever is thrown at me."