116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Sports / Iowa Hawkeyes / Iowa Football
Joe Evans, Noah Shannon ‘trying to make the most of’ sixth year with Iowa football
Evans, Shannon give Hawkeyes veteran presence again on defensive line in 2023
IOWA CITY — Joe Evans was in the kitchen of his apartment as he spoke with his parents on speakerphone about some big news.
The veteran defensive lineman already decided to return to the Iowa football team for a sixth year — it was a “no-brainer” — but he was figuring out how to break the news to everyone.
“I think I’m going to tell Coach (Kirk Ferentz) that I’m coming back,” Evans said, remembering his conversation with his parents.
Evans also needed to tell his grandparents in the Des Moines area who have been “so influential in my life,” and he wanted to do that in person.
Then came the surprise.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Evans told his parents. “I got to go.”
As Evans was talking about how to tell Ferentz the news, Ferentz happened to call to see “how everything’s going” and “how’s the process going.”
Cue Evans’ news.
One dilemma solved, and another possible dilemma avoided.
Evans and fellow defensive lineman Noah Shannon’s decisions to return for a sixth season means the Hawkeyes will again have a veteran presence on the defensive line.
Instead of one returning starter from last year on the line, Iowa will have three.
Shannon and Evans both had 8.5 tackles for loss — a tie for second on the team behind fellow defensive lineman Deontae Craig.
Evans had 6.5 sacks last year, which tied with Craig and NFL Draft-bound defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness for the team lead.
Shannon led Iowa’s defensive line with 34 of what Pro Football Focus defines as defensive stops — “tackles that constitute a failure for the offense.” No other linemen had more than 22.
Returning for 2023 will give Shannon and Evans another year to improve their resumes in hopes of a pro football career.
“Increasing my pass rush production will be big,” Shannon said. “Because in the NFL, it’s a very pass-oriented league.”
Shannon had two sacks in each of the last two seasons as one of Iowa’s starting defensive tackles.
The Aurora, Ill., native has been recovering from a shoulder procedure in January. He injured his shoulder on Sept. 10 vs. Iowa State, yet did not miss any starts.
“I played basically the entire season on it,” Shannon said. “It was uncomfortable at times, yeah, but I just wanted to do what I could to be out there competing with my brothers.”
As Shannon spoke of the injury earlier this month, it was his penultimate week wearing a sling.
“This thing is pretty inconvenient, especially when you’re sleeping,” Shannon said. “Looking forward to getting out of this thing.”
Evans was in a similar position as Shannon after recovering from shoulder injuries after the 2021 season, but now he is healthy and “building my strength back.”
Injury statuses aside, Evans’ and Shannon’s fifth and final spring football session as Hawkeyes has a degree of finality that wasn’t there before.
“You just look at everything a little different because you know it’s your final year,” Shannon said. “Last year, it was kind of up in the air whether I come back or not.”
Now, it’s “a little bittersweet.”
“I'm just trying to make the most of this experience,” Shannon said.
As for Evans, his sixth-year experience started with a few important tasks following Ferentz’s serendipitous timing — share the news with defensive line coach Kelvin Bell and, of course, his grandparents.
“That was crazy, wasn’t it?” Evans remembers telling his parents as he called them on the way to Des Moines. “It’s like K.F. has my phone tapped or something.”