Hockenson declares for NFL Draft

T. J. Hockenson became the fourth Hawkeye to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson scores on a fake field goal during Iowa's game against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Both of Iowa’s starting tight ends are going pro. T.J. Hockenson announced Monday that he will skip his junior and senior seasons with the Hawkeyes and enter the NFL Draft.

“After tremendous thought and consideration, I have made the decision to declare for the 2019 NFL draft,” Hockenson wrote. “This was a very difficult decision because of the love and respect I have for the University of Iowa, Coach Kirk Ferentz and the entire coaching staff, along with my teammates.”

Hockenson finished the 2018 season with an array of accolades, including the John Mackey Award, which is given to the nation’s top tight end. He was also a second-team AP All-American and named the Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors from conference media in the process.

In addition to the Mackey Award, Hockenson won the Ozzie Newsome Award, which is presented annually to the best tight end in college football.

The Chariton, Iowa, native led the Hawkeyes with 760 receiving yards and finished second on the team in receptions (49) and touchdown catches (6). He also ran for a score.

In the last two seasons, Hockenson has hauled in 73 passes for 1,080 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Hockenson has also developed in his blocking ability. Throughout the season it wasn’t uncommon to find videos of Hockenson bullying a defender on social media.

SB Nation had Hockenson going to the Green Bay Packers in the last pick of the first round in its mock draft.

“My dream has always been to play in the NFL and I believe now is the right time,” Hockenson wrote.

Hockenson’s announcement makes it four Hawkeyes skipping their remaining eligibility at Iowa and heading to the NFL.

Fellow tight end Noah Fant declared before Iowa’s Outback Bowl victory over Mississippi State, and defensive back Amani Hooker and defensive end Anthony Nelson posted their intentions after.

Iowa football confirmed in a release that all four players forfeited their remaining eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.

“Amani, Anthony and T.J. have been outstanding members of our team on the field and as leaders within the program,” Ferentz said in a release. “While we are disappointed to see them leave, we recognize this is an important decision and we wish them the very best as they pursue the draft.”

Under head coach Kirk Ferentz, Iowa has had an impressive run of success at the next level. Ferentz has coached 170 players who went on to the NFL, with 66 of those being draft picks and 104 being undrafted free agents. In the past 11 seasons alone, 40 players coached by Ferentz have been selected in the draft, including four in the first round (Bryan Bulaga, Adrian Clayborn, Riley Reiff, and Brandon Scherff).

With the departures of Hockenson and Fant, Iowa will turn its attention to Nate Wieting and Shaun Beyer at the tight end position.

Beyer mostly played on special teams in 2018, while Wieting caught 2 passes for 51 yards last season. Wieting hauled in a pass for 30 yards in Iowa’s season-opening win over Northern Illinois and caught another ball for a 21-yard gain in a loss to Purdue.

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