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IOWA CITY — Iowa’s Sam LaPorta is the 2022 Big Ten Tight End of the Year, the conference announced Wednesday.
LaPorta is the first tight end from Iowa to win the award since T.J. Hockenson in 2018.
LaPorta was the only player to receive first-team all-Big Ten honors on an Iowa offense that is 130th out of 131 FBS teams in yards per game and tied for 123rd in points per game.
Iowa did not have any offensive honorees on the second or third teams.
Fellow tight end Luke Lachey was an honorable mention from media. Running back Kaleb Johnson was an honorable mention from coaches and media. Offensive lineman Mason Richman was an honorable mention from coaches.
Wednesday’s announcement was the latest accolade for LaPorta amid a senior season that could result in All-America recognition..
LaPorta is one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the top tight end in college football. He also received an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
The senior from Highland, Ill., had a team-high 53 receptions for 601 yards in the regular season despite missing the Nov. 25 game against Nebraska with an injury.
The numbers were especially noteworthy when looking at the rest of Iowa’s receiving corps. Iowa’s top two wide receivers — Nico Ragaini and Arland Bruce IV — had 51 receptions for 552 yards combined.
Kaevon Merriweather earns sportsmanship award
Iowa safety Kaevon Merriweather earned Iowa’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Merriweather, an all-Big Ten honorable mention, recorded three interceptions while starting all 12 games at strong safety for the Hawkeyes. Opposing quarterbacks had an 11.7 passer rating when throwing to receivers Merriweather was covering, according to Pro Football Focus.
Off the field, Merriweather has been an advocate for social justice and was the inaugural winner in 2021 of the Duke Slater Golden Gavel Award, which Iowa media gives annually to a player who not only cooperates with local media, but shows “professional integrity in all interactions.”