Iowa Football

Iowa football notebook: Drew Cook gets used to tight end as he seeks first playing time

Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Drew Cook.
Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Drew Cook.

IOWA CITY — His father was the ultimate tight end at Tight End U., but Drew Cook continues to try and learn the intricacies of the position as he seeks his first playing time.

The junior from Iowa City Regina was moved from quarterback to tight end in the spring of 2017 and isn’t listed on Iowa’s depth chart at his new position. Marv Cook, his dad, was a consensus all-American tight end in the 1980s and enjoyed a productive NFL career.

“Being a tight end, it’s hard, it’s tough, it’s physical,” Drew Cook said. “It’s good. I’m just trying to soak it all in. Just take everything day to day.”

The 6-foot-5 Cook was a four-year letterwinner at Regina, helping the Regals set a state record with 56 consecutive wins. He completed 65 percent of his passes as a senior for 2,504 yards and 31 touchdowns.

There was lots of speculation about the position ultimately he would play at Iowa, and that was QB his first two years in the program. A switch came last year, but Cook still has not played a down for the Hawkeyes.

“In my life, I’d never blocked someone,” he said. “So that was obviously a challenge, something I’ve had to try and work on. And I have. Last spring, I really focused on it, worked hard in the weight room and got bigger (from 235 pounds to 250). It has gotten easier. It makes sense now what I’m trying to do, my assignments.”

The problem with being a tight end at Iowa for Cook is all of the quality and quantity ahead of him. There’s Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, Shaun Beyer, Nate Wieting ...

The list seems endless.

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“We have great tight ends,” Cook said. “It’s a great room. I can’t even tell you what great guys they are, too. They’re not only great football players, but they’ve been great friends to me. It has been great getting to know them more.”

Does he have regret he didn’t start out his college career at tight end?

“None,” he said. “You have no say in what happens to you. It’s how you respond. I have really just done everything they’ve told me to do. I just honestly want to do everything I can to make Iowa football better.”

First Doyle ... on the field

Former Iowa City West prep Dillon Doyle is a true freshman linebacker for Iowa, joining brother, Declan, who is an offensive student assistant coach. Dad, Chris, of course, is Iowa’s longtime strength and conditioning coach. Declan Doyle played college baseball before taking a shot at football coaching, while a third brother, Donovan, is a college wrestler at Harvard.

“I had one kid who really kind of pursued the baseball route ... one that’s a wrestler and now Dillon’s a football player,” Chris Doyle said. “My wife, Tia, and I always enjoyed the different seasons. We loved sitting in the stands at a baseball stadium watching Declan play. We loved wrestling, the whole wrestling community, the people in it. And we love football, obviously. Each kid is their own kid, they each have their own interests. We have certainly enjoyed each one of them.”

He’s not nervous about working directly with Dillon.

“When it looked like this may be a possibility, I visited with (head coach) Kirk (Ferentz) about it,” Chris Doyle said. “I just said ‘Kirk, how did you handle it, with three kids all having successfully running the race at Iowa in the football program?’ It’s a unique challenge when you’re a coach’s kid. Kirk just said it was simple, you treat them like the rest of them. It’s as simple as that. We’d like to think we treat every (kid) the same way, that we love them like family. You work with them, and you always have their best interests in mind. If you’re treating everyone the right way, then your kid will be treated the right way, too.”

Saturday is Kids Day

Iowa will conduct its annual Kids Day event Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. The event is free, as is parking. Stadium Gates ‘A’ and ‘E’ will open to the public at 11 a.m., with players signing autographs for kids for a half-hour beginning at 11:30. Players will be on the field, with autograph seekers remaining in the stands. Iowa then will conduct a practice at noon.

Ticket talk

A few tickets remain for each game on Iowa’s season-opening “homestand,” Senior Associate Athletics Director Matt Henderson said Friday. Between 2,000 and 2,500 seats are available for the Hawkeyes’ games against Iowa State (Sept. 8), Northern Iowa (Sept. 15) and Wisconsin (Sept. 22). About 5,000 tickets remain for the season opener Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois. Henderson said he anticipates all student tickets to be eventually sold.

North End Zone

Iowa wanted to remind fans there will be no restrooms or concession in the north end zone, as its $89 million construction overall continues. The school said plenty of portable toilets will be available for fans along adjacent Evashevski Drive, as will some concession stands. Because of construction, Iowa is encouraging fans attending games at Kinnick to use the Coral Ridge Mall, Melrose Avenue and Dubuque Street exits along Interstate 80 to get to the stadium.

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Roster Movement

Three players have changed uniform numbers as fall camp has begun: kicker Keith Duncan (1), running back Mekhi Sargent (10) and defensive lineman Jack Kallenberger (97). Redshirt freshman Joe Lugwig has changed positions, from linebacker to fullback, as has true freshman Luke Empen of Northeast (tight end to offensive lineman). Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said there are 115 players in fall camp. Only 13 are seniors.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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