Iowa Football

Noah Fant leaving Iowa football program for NFL Draft

Tight end will not play in bowl game

Iowa tight end Noah Fant (87) tries to pull away from Illinois defensive back Cameron Watkins (31) during the first quarter of their game at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. on Nov. 17. Iowa announced Friday Fant is leaving the team to pursue a professional career. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa tight end Noah Fant (87) tries to pull away from Illinois defensive back Cameron Watkins (31) during the first quarter of their game at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. on Nov. 17. Iowa announced Friday Fant is leaving the team to pursue a professional career. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Noah Fant up-and-down football season is over. And so is his career at the University of Iowa.

Iowa announced Friday the junior tight end will forego his remaining eligibility and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

He will not play in Iowa’s upcoming bowl game.

“We are disappointed Noah will not be finishing the season with his teammates,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz in a release. “He is a tremendous athlete and we wish him the best as he pursues his goal of playing in the NFL.”

Fant’s season was marked by on-the-field success — 39 receptions for 519 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns — but also with grumblings about his playing time and number of targets. His brother, Chris, tweeted earlier this season “these coaches must think the #1 Guy in the nation is the 2nd or 3rd best on there team! ... It’s hard to believe a player who is arguably the best at his position only plays sometimes.”


Fant said he “won’t turn his back on my family,” but downplayed his playing time issue.

“From my perspective, it really doesn’t affect me,” he said after the tweet. “I go in when I’m told to go in, that’s all I can really do about it. My brother and my family have their opinions, that doesn’t really matter in that situation.”

Tight end T.J. Hockenson led Iowa receivers this season with 46 catches for 717 yards and six TDs.

Fant met with Ferentz on Wednesday to discuss and share his future plans.

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“Thank you, coach Ferentz and coach (Chris) Doyle for the opportunity and honor to represent the black and gold — for helping me grow physically and mentally — more than I thought possible,” Fant wrote on social media.

The Omaha, Neb., native has 1,083 career receiving yards and 19 touchdown catches — the most by an Iowa tight end and third-best among Big Ten tight ends. Fant this week was named first-team All-Big Ten by league coaches after earning third-team honors in 2017 when he caught 30 passes for 494 yards and 11 TDs.

Iowa (8-4) is bowl eligible for the 17th time in the last 18 seasons. Iowa’s bowl destination and opponent will be announced Sunday.

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