IOWA CITY, Iowa — Dalton Ferguson has participated in “The Wave” since its inception on Sept. 2, 2017. There was added meaning on Saturday when the University of Iowa hosted Northern Iowa inside Kinnick Stadium.
 
It has been a successful, eventful, and stressful beginning to the football season for Ferguson, a 6-4, 308-pound fifth-year offensive lineman from Solon, Iowa. Ferguson became a first-time starter at left tackle for a season-opening victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 1.

ALSO: Iowa fans and players continue tradition of waving to children’s hospital

Before a win over Iowa State on Sept. 8, he became a father.

 
“You can call yourself a dad, but this is something I want to earn,” Ferguson said. “I want to be the best father I can, so I’m doing any little thing I can to help out.”
 
His first exposure to parenthood has Ferguson seeing double. Twin daughters were born to Ferguson and his girlfriend, Rachael, at 6:25 and 6:26 a.m. on Sept. 7. One weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces, the other was 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Being five weeks premature means an extended stay in the neonatal intensive care unit on the sixth floor of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

 
For more than a season — nine games in all — when the first quarter of football in Kinnick Stadium concludes, Ferguson looks east toward the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and waves to strangers. On Sept. 8, he waved to family.
 
“At the time it was so surreal, I don’t think I grasped the concept that I have two kids,” Ferguson said. “I was able to flip the switch a little bit; afterwards (Iowa offensive coordinator) Brian Ferentz came up to me and said, ‘The twins are undefeated.'”

ALSO: No. 18 Wisconsin prepared for fresh start at Iowa after BYU upset
 
The Hawkeyes’ postgame celebration was electric, but even that feeling paled in comparison to Ferguson’s postgame celebration in the hospital.
 
“I went up and held them for the first time,” he said. “It was awesome, amazing.”
 
A week after his first start against Northern Illinois, Ferguson saw action on special teams during the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. He was exhausted.
 
“We have these sleep-tracker bands and my strength coaches were texting me, ‘Why did you get two hours, 20 minutes of sleep (Thursday) night? What is going on?'” Ferguson said.

 
Ferguson was a three-year letterman and two-time captain at Solon before coming to Iowa as a walk-on. He played in eight games (including the Rose Bowl) as a redshirt freshman and 12 games as a sophomore. During practice in April, 2017, Ferguson tore an ACL and missed the first nine games of the season.
 
“After the injury, I changed my mindset on what Iowa football and family meant to me,” Ferguson said. “I took a more serious approach, not that I wasn’t serious before, but I needed to focus.”
 
On Wednesday, after holding both twins at the same time for the first time, a notion hit Ferguson like a blitzing linebacker.

Take a look below at Iowa’s inspirational tradition: