116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The Iowa football team’s “Tight End U” nickname should be fitting again in 2022.
With their top two tight ends returning — including one with a good shot at an NFL career — the Hawkeyes appears to be in an optimal scenario.
Here’s a closer look in the latest installment of The Gazette’s winter position breakdown:
Josiah Miamen, who was behind Sam LaPorta and Luke Lachey on the depth chart, transferred to Florida International. Miamen played in 37 snaps in 2021, per Pro Football Focus, after not seeing any game action in 2019 or 2020.
Iowa will not lose any scholarship players at the position to graduation although walk-ons Bryce Schulte and Tommy Kujawa were seniors in 2021.
LaPorta likely could’ve been drafted this year despite a deep tight end class, if he wanted to pursue that route. Bleacher Report ranked him as the 99th-best 2022 prospect last month.
That is surely welcome news as Iowa looks to rebound from its 2021 season where it ranked 96th in offensive efficiency in ESPN’s Football Power Index.
The junior was Iowa’s leader or co-leader in almost every major receiving stat and was on the field more than any other Iowa receiver.
He started in 13 of 14 games as a junior and played at least 40 snaps in each game, according to PFF.
Iowa has seen a smaller sample size from Lachey — 13 targets versus LaPorta’s 81 — but the early results have been respectable for the freshman from Columbus, Ohio.
Lachey caught eight of those 13 targets and averaged 16.6 yards per catch in 2021.
Who’s joining the mix
Cael Vanderbush and Addison Ostrenga, both three-star recruits, will be coming in as part of the 2022 recruiting class.
Both initially had their sights set elsewhere before committing to Iowa football. Ostrenga is a former Iowa baseball commit, and Vanderbush is a former Western Michigan football commit.
Kyson Van Vugt, who hails from Hull, will join the Hawkeyes as a preferred walk-on.
Only one tight end — LaPorta in 2019 — has started a game as a true freshman in the Kirk Ferentz era, so Ostrenga and Vanderbush likely will be names to keep an eye on farther down the road.
Way-too-early two-deep projection
Projecting some positions at this point in the offseason requires going out on a limb. Tight end is not one of those positions. A change from this projection outside of an injury, while not impossible, would be quite the surprise.
- Sam LaPorta
- Luke Lachey
The tight end position was a strength in 2021. With the top two guys coming back, it should easily be a strength again in 2022.
LaPorta has proved himself as a high-caliber tight end, and Lachey has shown potential behind him, albeit in a smaller sample size.
A productive offseason from Lachey could open possibilities for offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz as Iowa looks to improve offensively from a difficult 2021.
There are plenty of questions for Iowa’s offense in 2022 — which quarterback will be throwing to LaPorta and Lachey in game action is top of mind — but tight end is not one of them.
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