Aaron Mends, an Iowa linebacker who showed promise but whose Hawkeye career never really got started due to a host of factors, announced Monday that he intends to leave Iowa as a grad transfer and use his final year of eligibility elsewhere:
Thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/DQx4nfCEei
— (A)aron (Men)ds (@Aaron_Mends) December 3, 2018
Mends, a recruit out of Kansas City, arrived at Iowa in 2014 as a 3* recruit. He redshirted during the 2014 season. In 2015 he saw action in 13 games, often on special teams, and recorded four tackles and a blocked punt. The blocked punt came in Iowa's win over Maryland and led to an Iowa touchdown. Mends saw action in 12 games in 2016 and recorded four tackles and a sack.
— Danny Lawhon (@DannyLawhon) January 2, 2017
The sack came against Florida in the Outback Bowl and briefly gave us some excitement that maybe Mends was on the verge of breaking through to more playing time. He was not. He played in 12 games in 2017 and recorded five tackles. He was unable to play in 2018 after tearing an ACL during spring practice.
The biggest problem for Mends was one of timing; his ascent up the depth chart came at the same time as guys like Josey Jewell and Ben Niemann lodged themselves atop the linebacker depth chart. Mends competed with Bo Bower for reps at the other linebacker spot, but was evidently never able to supplant Bower in practice. With the graduations of Jewell, Niemann, and Bower after the 2017 season, the deck was finally clear for new blood at linebacker and it seemed like Mends was finally going to get a chance to shine. Unfortunately, disaster struck in the form of an ACL injury and his season was over before it could even begin.
Fortunately, he did receive another year of eligibility due to that injury and now we know he'll be using it elsewhere. It's a shame that things never worked out for him at Iowa because he showed great promise at times -- he was quick and had incredible hitting power. We wish him luck at his next destination and hopefully he can have a full season to strut his stuff with his new team. (Don't forget to wow your new teammates with your magic skills, Aaron!)