Wieting helps lead Hawkeye tight ends into new era

With Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson in the NFL, the Iowa tight end room looks different. But senior Nate Wieting said he thinks the position is in good hands.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa tight end Nate Wieting runs after a catch during Iowa’s game against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 1, 2018. during Iowa’s game against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies 33-7.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

When Nate Wieting entered the Hawkeye football program, his assignment on the scout team was to block a healthy and powerful Drew Ott.

It did not go well for Wieting, then weighing in at 220.

Now older and about 30 pounds heavier, Wieting will help lead the attack for a new era of tight ends at Iowa. The Hawkeyes lost T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant to the NFL Draft in April after both posted stellar seasons.

Hockenson led the team with 760 yards on 49 catches with 6 touchdowns, and Fant hauled in 39 passes for 519 yards and 7 scores.

Still, Wieting — who had 2 receptions for 51 yards last season — said he thinks the tight-end position is in good hands.

“Those two guys — Noah and T.J. — they had incredible years and incredible careers, and I think they’re going to do really well in the NFL,” Wieting said. “But I still think we have a lot coming back. I think the guys in the room can show that we can be really good at the tight-end position despite losing Noah and T.J. last year.”

Although he hasn’t seen a ton of action, Wieting has drawn comparisons to former Iowa tight end Henry Krieger-Coble.

Krieger-Coble, who went on to have stints with the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, set a standard that Wieting remembers entering his senior season.

“I just remember him doing everything really, really well,” Wieting said. “He had really, really good footwork, ran outstanding routes, he was solid in the run game. Just a really good overall football player. That comparison is an honor.”

Stone playing center field as a safety

Geno Stone is used to tracking down balls and catching them. Last season, the then-sophomore sniffed out 4 picks and broke up 3 passes.

But he didn’t initially learn that skill on the football field. Instead, he caught fly balls on the baseball diamond.

Now, with Amani Hooker and Jake Gervase gone, he’ll use the skills to lead the secondary.

“I feel like I always had [ball skills] growing up just being around the ball,” Stone said. “I feel like playing baseball really helped me because I played center field. So basically, just watching the ball come off the bat helped me with my reaction and predicting where the ball is going to go. Football is relatable, just watching the quarterback throw the ball, knowing where his eyes are and where he’s throwing the ball, so basically just getting there before the ball gets there helps me a lot.”

Receiver iron sharpens defensive-back iron

There’s a residence in Iowa City consisting of Stone, defensive back Matt Hankins, and wide receivers Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smth-Marsette.

But when practice time comes around and the competition turns up, the roommates go to battle. After competing all practice, the group often goes home and gives each other tips on how to improve.

Hankins said he was told he shades in too far when playing press coverage, and he told the receivers he watches their back leg and hips to shake them.

And sometimes the competition comes home, such as the time Smith-Marsette and Stone argued about whether Buffalo Wild Wings is a fast-food restaurant. The debate lasted an hour and a half, Hankins said, but a verdict was apparently reached. Or not.

“Literally, they called two different Buffalo Wild Wings and asked them,” Hankins said. “They both said it was fast food, but I don’t really think so.”