Son of a Hawkeye! 9 Iowa players are sons of former Iowa players

Many more have college football bloodlines

Marv Cook when he was making trouble for defenders as an Iowa tight end in the 1980s
Marv Cook when he was making trouble for defenders as an Iowa tight end in the 1980s

Iowa’s football team features more good bloodlines than the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Obviously, major-college football will be populated by players whose fathers competed at that level.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey. Michigan guard Kyle Kalis is the son of former NFL offensive lineman Todd Kalis. Legendary running back Barry Sanders’ son, Barry J. Sanders, transferred to Oklahoma State from Stanford this year for his senior season.

At Iowa, there have been second-generation Hilgenbergs and Happels and Reillys and more. But this season, the Hawkeyes have a whopping nine players who are sons of former Hawkeye players. They are:

Brandon Bishop, wide receiver. Willie Bishop lettered for Iowa in 1986.

Drew Cook, quarterback. Marv Cook was a premier tight end for Iowa from 1985-1988.

Cole Croston, offensive lineman. Dave Croston lettered as an O-lineman at Iowa from 1984-86.


Mitch Keppy, offensive lineman. Myron Keppy was an Iowa defensive lineman who lettered in 1986 and 1987.

George Kittle, tight end. Bruce Kittle was an offensive lineman for the Hawkeyes, and was a co-captain on their 1981 Big Ten championship team.

Tyler Kluver, long snapper. Todd Kluver was a center for the Hawkeyes in 1986 and 1987.

Anthony Nelson, defensive end. Jeff Nelson was a defensive lineman who lettered from 1990-92.

Peter Pekar, tight end. Jim Pekar was a defensive tackle who lettered for Iowa in 1980 and 1981.

Ryan Schmidt, quarterback. Rick Schmidt was a defensive back who lettered from 1984-86.

But that’s not all. Other players on the team were sired by former major-college players. Included are:

LeShun and James Daniels, running back and offensive lineman. LeShun Daniels Sr., was a 3-year starter at offensive guard for Ohio State and played alongside Orlando Pace on the offensive line in the mid-1980s.


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Eric Grimm, linebacker. Donn Grimm was a linebacker for Notre Dame’s national-championship team of 1988. Eric’s uncle, Russ Grimm, was an offensive lineman at Pittsburgh and a longtime Washington Redskins standout who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He played for three Super Bowl-winners.

Greg Mabin, defensive back. Wesley Mabin played cornerback for national-title teams at Nebraska in 1970 and 1971.

Ben and Nick Niemann, linebackers. Jay Niemann played linebacker at Iowa State from 1979-82 and is now an assistant coach at Rutgers.

Kevin and Ryan Ward, defensive back and offensive lineman. Brian Ward was a 3-year letterman at offensive tackle at Illinois.

To extend this further, Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard is the nephew of former AFL/NFL quarterback Pete Beathard, the No. 5 pick in the 1964 NFL draft out of USC.

If I’m overlooking someone or ones, drop me a line at and I’ll update this. Just being someone’s brother doesn’t count. We’re talking second-generation and even third-generation here.



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