Heflin quickly impacting Hawkeye football program

Since his arrival in June, Jack Heflin has asserted his presence both on and off the field.


Photo of Jack Heflin. Contributed.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

When Jack Heflin first arrived in Iowa City, bonding with his teammates wasn’t possible.

The defensive tackle entered the transfer portal May 11, and just 10 days later, he officially transferred from Northern Illinois to Iowa. COVID-19 forced Heflin to abide by Big Ten offseason guidelines, denying him the ability to meet all of his new teammates right away.

Once Heflin eventually started to work out and practice with the entire team, he proved to be a critical piece in building team chemistry.

“[Heflin’s] got a great personality,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s like a 48-year-old guy that lives next to you. That’s what he reminds me of, the kind of neighbor you want to visit with. I mean, he’s awesome. He’s brought a good life to our team.”

While a compliment from Ferentz is always appreciated, Heflin doesn’t quite understand the comparison his coach made.

“When I saw that [comparison], I was like, ‘I don’t really know where he’s coming from with that,’” Heflin said. “I guess I’m the guy that always comes in and asks people how they’re doing, asks how their family is doing and stuff like that. So, I guess that’s where he gets it from. I’ve always been that way. I mean, I would never say I’m not mature. I mean, I would like to think I am, but I got a long ways to go. It was a good compliment to get. Even my mom asked me about it, and I was like, ‘Mom, I don’t know.’ But, I’ll take a compliment any way I can get it I guess.”

His impact goes beyond team building. On the field, Heflin been a key cog in Iowa’s stout run defense. Heflin has accrued 18 total tackles on the season, 11 of which he recorded on his own.

Iowa’s total rush defense ranks 23rd in the nation. But the Hawkeyes have only given up 2.84 yards per rush – fifth-best in the country. This can be attributed to the strong push Iowa gets up front from interior lineman like Heflin and fellow transfer Daviyon Nixon.

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Heflin has also registered one sack on the season, a feat he may need to replicate to help Iowa defend an Illinois offense that is predicated on quarterback play – specifically quarterback runs. On two occasions this season, a Fighting Illini signal caller has led the team in rushing.

The Prophetstown, Illinois, native grew up a Hawkeye fan as Prophetstown is closer to Iowa City than Champaign. Illinois didn’t recruit Heflin out of high school, but it was one of the schools that recruited Heflin when he entered the transfer portal.

“I really respect their coaching staff and what they’re doing down there,” Heflin said. “It just wasn’t the fit for me at the time.”

Growing up a Hawkeye fan, Heflin always dreamed of playing football at Iowa. He went to Northern Illinois after high school because he didn’t receive many other Division I offers – not even from his dream institution.

When Iowa recruited him after he entered the transfer portal, Heflin almost immediately made up his mind.

“Growing up as an Iowa fan, I was really excited when Iowa started pursuing me,” he said. “That’s where my interest was leaning towards the whole time in the portal. There were a bunch of other great institutions, and colleges, and universities that recruited me to come there, but it was an honor to see Iowa on the list.”

So far, playing football at Iowa has been everything Heflin dreamed it would be – even without fans in Big Ten grandstands this season.

“At the end of the day, it’s just being able to put the Tigerhawk on my head every day, and come to work here, and just to have the opportunity to play for a coaching staff that has so much experience,” Heflin said.

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