The tight end talent pool must ever be replenished at Iowa and while the immediate future at tight end looks great with Sam LaPorta doing his thing and the likes of Luke Lachey, Josiah Miamen, and Elijah Yelverton waiting in the wings, there's always a need for future talent at the position. That need is especially pertinent for Iowa's 2022 recruiting class, because the Hawkeyes didn't add any tight ends in their 2021 class. That makes tight end a point of emphasis for the 2022 class and they secured a verbal commitment from a key prospect this week:
Blessed and excited to announce my commitment to the University of Iowa. Go hawks pic.twitter.com/h3gygk00Lg— Cael Vanderbush (@CaelVanderbush) September 28, 2021
Cael Vanderbush, listed at 6'6", 200 lbs, is considered a 3* prospect by Rivals and 247 Sports. He previously gave a verbal commitment to Western Michigan back in the summer, but decommitted from them on Sunday, before choosing Iowa on Monday. In addition to Iowa and Western Michigan, Vanderbush also had offers from Air Force and Utah. Vanderbush is one of those senior season standouts that Iowa often likes to target in recruiting. Through six games this season, he's posted 561 yards and four touchdowns on 24 receptions for Plainfield High School in Indiana. Those stats certainly turned a few heads.
Vanderbush made an official visit over the weekend and seeing how Iowa used their tight ends sealed the deal for his decision. As he said to Rivals:
"Having the offensive coordinator being the tight end coach is obviously a plus," said Vanderbush. "Iowa likes to target their tight ends a lot and they often have two on the field at a time."
That is... an accurate assessment! Iowa certainly does like to target tight ends a lot and they do play two tight end sets on a high percentage of plays on offense. If you want to go to a school that makes good use of tight ends, well, Iowa is an excellent choice.
Vanderbush presents as an interesting physical specimen for Iowa at tight end. He's presently listed at 6'6", 200 lbs, which would make him basically Slenderman out there at tight end. A tight end that lanky may have a hard time dealing with the physical grind of FBS football (and Big Ten football, in particular) but, of course, Vanderbush won't actually be that skinny when he's at Iowa. He has plenty of time to add weight before arriving at Iowa, not to mention the ability to work with Iowa's strength and conditioning staff when he does get to Iowa City. Vanderbush may not be ready to make an immediate impact in fall 2022, but fortunately Iowa probably wouldn't need him too, either, given the other young tight ends in the program.
Vanderbush becomes the second tight end in Iowa's 2022 recruiting class, joining fellow prospect Addison Ostrenga, a 3* recruit out of Wisconsin who signed on to Iowa's class over the summer. Between those two commits (and the young tight end prospects already in Iowa City), the future of the tight end position at Iowa looks very bright.
Check out some footage of Vanderbush in action below:
He seems to spend a lot of time split out wide and playing as a de facto wide receiver, and while he won't do that very much at Iowa, he does show a good ability to get down the field quickly and an impressive ability to make some contested catches. He's also got some wheels after the catch, which is always fun in a tight end. And there's even a few blocking highlights here, where he shows a bit of a mean streak, something that will certainly endear him to his coaches at Iowa.
Welcome to Iowa, Cael.