With not one but two All-Americans at tight end and one soon to be pro bowler, can we officially name the Iowa football program tight end university?
The short answer is “I sure as heck think so”, but it wouldn’t be right to not give you the long answer. The Iowa football program has long been considered one of the best universities in terms of producing tight ends, but the tight ends produced weren’t top-10 picks or flashy players so it’s tough to realize how well they do in the NFL.
But did you know that since 2000, the Iowa football program has produced ten tight ends that have played a snap in a meaningful NFL game? This doesn’t even include the likes of Henry Krieger Coble (who is bouncing around practice squads) or Jake Duzey (who just signed with the upstart AAF league). Here is the complete list of guys who have suited up for the Iowa football team since 2000 before playing in the NFL:
The Iowa football team is going to be possibly adding two more tight ends to the list this season with Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson projected to be first and second-day NFL Draft picks after both being named AP All-Americans this season.
So where does this leave Iowa in the think of universities vying for the tight end university spot?
Sitting pretty. This analysis was recently completed a few years ago with a sample size looking at 2006 to 2015 by CBS Sports. The conclusion was that Iowa was 5th and Miami was 1st. Considering this is an honor that favors recent history, I took another look and expanded my range from the year 2000 to today and here is where we stand.
Miami – 16 tight ends in the NFL in that time period.
- Most notable current players: David Njoku (first round pick last year and starter for the Browns) and Greg Olsen (on IR)
Georgia – 8 tight ends in the NFL in that time period
- Most notable current players: Ben Watson (former 1st rounder, now journeyman)
Tennessee – 7 tight ends in the NFL in that time period
- Most notable current players: Although he is retired, Jason Witten is the most notable.
Wisconsin – 7 tight ends in the NFL in that time period
- Most notable current players: Same as Witten, retired, but most notable is Owen Daniels
Notre Dame – 12 tight ends in the NFL in that time period
- Most notable current players: Kyle Rudolph (starter for the Vikings)
When looking at the list of previously considered schools for tight end university, the Iowa football program easily surpasses Georgia, Tennessee, and Wisconsin in both amount of tight ends produced and careers by those tight ends. Although Notre Dame leads Iowa currently, the Hawks are about to tie them in total tight end numbers and will destroy them in the “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately game”. That leaves Miami.
Before we compare Miami to Iowa, it’s important to remember that these superlative awards ebb and flow with the times. So while Miami may have dominated the early-2000’s producing first round tight ends like an assembly line, as of late that has fallen off significantly. That’s why the Iowa football program takes the cake.
They are six tight ends behind Miami, but they are about to reduce that lead to two. Furthermore, the Hawks have George Kittle who is arguably a top-3 tight end in the league with a soon-to-be first round draft Noah Fant and a possible second round draft pick in TJ Hockenson. Meanwhile, Miami has Greg Olsen who has been superb, but is likely nearing the end of his career after dealing with repeated injuries and David Njoku, an extremely talented player who has yet to meet expectations in Cleveland.
So, is it time to finally call the University of Iowa tight end U?