College Football

Nate Wieting's first career reception really is what it's all about

The sophomore tight end made it through three spring surgeries and a fall shoulder separation

Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Nate Wieting (39) catches a pass in Wednesday's Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Nate Wieting (39) catches a pass in Wednesday's Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK — The Pinstripe Bowl was really the Resiliency Bowl.

Boston College went through injuries in 2017 that would ashen any head coach’s face. Senior center, two linebackers, starting quarterback and all-American defensive end missed multiple games this season.

You know the Iowa story a little better. The Hawkeyes lost senior offensive tackles Boone Myers and Ike Boettger really by week 2. Safety Brandon Snyder suffered a torn ACL in April and October. Linebacker Josey Jewell missed a game, and so did junior center James Daniels. Safety Amani Hooker, whose two TD-saving tackles helped keep eight points off the board for the Eagles, missed three games after suffering a bruised knee against Ohio State.

This also is how Iowa’s 27-20 Pinstripe Bowl victory played out on Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes (8-5) were held to a field goal after reaching BC’s 6 on safety Jake Gervase’s interception during the game’s initial series. They fell behind 17-10 in the first half and allowed 281 yards, but, you know, Resiliency Bowl.

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley piled up 283 all-purpose yards and took home the MVP. That was for the Pinstripe, though.

Resiliency Bowl is going another direction.

Iowa sophomore tight end Nate Wieting came up with a huge reception during Iowa’s game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. It was a 17-yard gain that ended with Wieting straddling out-of-bounds and the pylon. After review, the ruling was down inside the one, and then fullback Drake Kulick pushed in for the winning points.

It was the first-career reception for the walk-on from Rockford, Ill. He was wide open, too. Quarterback Nate Stanley got a little help from the sideline and eventually saw Wieting on a crossing route.

“I didn’t see him right away,” Stanley said. “I actually heard everybody on the sideline yelling his name. That’s when I saw him and hit him.”

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It was Wieting’s third-career target. He had two targets as a redshirt freshman last season, including one in the Outback Bowl against Florida.

“That one went for a pick six for Florida,” Wieting said. “This one turned out a lot better for us and I’m happy that it did.”

So finally, Wieting now has as many career targets as he’s had surgeries.

He fought through shoulder and knee injuries last season, but in the spring, he needed surgery on both. He also had foot surgery.

Yes, three surgeries last spring.

“I had a pretty rough spring,” he said.

Stanley had a class with Wieting that semester.

“He had his arm in a sling most of the time,” Stanley said. “He’s had a long road to come back and play. He did everything he could in the training room to rehab and just be ready to play for the season.”

Wieting obviously missed spring practice. He hit the reset button and was ready for fall camp until . . .

“First week of fall camp, I dove for a ball and I landed on my shoulder in an awkward position,” Wieting said. “I ended up separating it. That probably took me out for a month or two.”

So, he hit the re-reset button.

Wieting gave Iowa football’s medical and training staff a standing ovation. They’re all probably on a first-name basis.

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“Coaches, trainers and everyone who worked with me made sure I was progressing well and feeling good with everything,” he said. “They didn’t put me in any situations where I felt like I couldn’t get the job done.”

That’s the story of one reception and everything that went into it. You never know, right?

“I’m proud of him,” running back Akrum Wadley said. “I know that reception, that touchdown . . . well, close and feel like they, you know. I feel like that’s going to carry momentum into next year for him.”

Wieting couldn’t stifle his smile.

“For me personally, it’s an incredible experience,” he said. “That’s a lot to overcome.”

No one will debate that with the Resiliency Bowl MVP.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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