116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa’s offense had its shortcomings in 2022, but tight end certainly was not one of them.
Led by Mackey Award finalist Sam LaPorta, the position group was responsible for more receptions than Iowa’s wide receivers.
The position group looks a little different now, but it could be shouldering a heavy workload again during the 2023 football season.
Here’s an early look at Iowa’s 2023 tight end group in the first part of The Gazette’s Iowa football winter position breakdown series:
Sam LaPorta, a senior in 2022, likely will be one of the top tight ends in the this year’s NFL Draft class.
LaPorta was a major contributor to the offense, grabbing 53 receptions as a junior in 2021 and 58 as a senior in 2022.
He had more catches in 2022 than all of Iowa’s wide receivers combined.
Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said LaPorta “is as good a football player as I’ve ever coached.”
Jackson Frericks, a walk-on, also was academically a senior in 2022. He did not see game action in his Iowa career.
Luke Lachey highlights the list of tight ends expected to return to Iowa in 2023.
Lachey made significant strides in his sophomore season, racking up 28 catches for 398 yards as a sophomore. His four touchdown receptions were a team high.
Addison Ostrenga appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman, although most of his contributions were on special teams.
Steven Stilianos played sparingly in his first year after transferring from Lafayette College. He took 15 snaps in eight games, according to Pro Football Focus.
Johnny Pascuzzi earned plenty of praise from coaches before the 2022 season, but the redshirt freshman did not see much playing time.
Kyson Van Vugt, Cael Vanderbush and Andrew Lentsch also are expected to return after not seeing game action in 2022.
Van Vugt and Vanderbush were true freshmen on scholarship, and Lentsch was a redshirt freshman walk-on.
Who’s joining the mix
Erick All Jr. was one of Iowa’s highest-profile additions from the transfer portal last month.
All was an all-Big Ten honorable mention and one of quarterback Cade McNamara’s go-to targets in 2021 at Michigan. A season-ending injury limited All to only three games in 2022.
Zach Ortwerth will arrive as a true freshman from St. Louis — near where LaPorta grew up. Ortwerth earned three-star ratings from 247Sports and Rivals.
Way-too-early two-deep projections
Considering Iowa’s depth at tight end and lack of experience at wide receiver, it makes the most sense to project two starting tight ends instead of one.
- Erick All Jr. and Luke Lachey
- Addison Ostrenga
Tight end was one of Iowa’s deepest positions in 2022, and that should be the case again in 2023.
Replacing a Mackey Award finalist usually is a tall task, but Iowa still has an impressive level of talent in the tight ends room.
All and Lachey have the potential to eventually be NFL tight ends. All already has a rapport with Iowa’s new quarterback, McNamara, from being roommates at Michigan.
Ostrenga, Stilianos and others give the Hawkeyes an enviable level of depth.