Iowa Hawkeye linebacker Aaron Mends announced on social media that he was leaving the University of Iowa and will pursue a graduate transfer/6th year of eligibility for the NCAA. The fifth-year linebacker was poised for a starting role on the 2018 Hawkeye team, but he suffered a torn ACL during the last week of spring practice and could not recover during the season.
“I would like to thank the University of Iowa for the incredible opportunity they have given me,” Mends posted on Twitter. “Throughout my career, I have made great friends, memories, and most importantly, earned a college degree. With the support of my coaches and family, I have decided to pursue a graduate transfer and continue my academic and athletic career. Thank you.”
Mends had been beaten out for the starting linebacker roles in his career, but he was poised to take a giant step forward this season due to Iowa’s three starting linebackers graduating from the 2017 team. His injury was a huge blow to the Iowa linebacker depth chart and elevated guys like Jack Hockaday, Kristian Welch, and Djimon Colbert.
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Things had been pretty quiet on the Mends front over the course of the last few months. After he tore his ACL, there was talk that he would try to play in the Bowl game if he was healthy enough. There is no sure-fire answer whether or not Mends will be granted a sixth-year of eligibility.
“[He won’t be back] in the regular season. Hopefully for the bowl,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said back on November 6. “But it’s just been a long road, and it’s been a little frustrating for him quite frankly. All these injuries, you know, you just feel for the players involved because that’s not what anybody wants.”
Mends was a two-way standout player for Winnetonka High School. He finished his high school career with 210 tackles on defense, 1,790 rushing yards and 140 receiving yards and 29 total touchdowns. His senior year alone, he recorded 50 tackles as a senior, with 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, with one forced fumble and a pass break-up. He also rushed 69 times for 285 yards and five touchdowns, while collecting six receptions for 28 yards.
The Kansas City native redshirted during the 2014 season and eventually became a fan favorite due to his energy, charismatic personality, and his hidden talent of magic. Mends finished his career with 13 tackles and appeared in a total of 37 games for the Hawkeyes.