It took a little bit longer than anticipated, but in the end T.J. Hockenson made the expected decision -- he's departing Iowa to enter the NFL Draft early:
Hockenson had a remarkable redshirt sophomore season in 2018, emerging from the shadow of Noah Fant to earn All-Big Ten honors and All-America honors. He was also named the Big Ten Tight End of the Year and became the second Iowa tight end (after Dallas Clark) to win the John Mackey Award for the nation's best tight end. Not too shabby for an unheralded recruit from small-town Iowa.
After a perfectly solid redshirt freshman campaign (24 catches, 320 receiving yards, 3 TD), Hockenson exploded this year -- 49 receptions, 760 yards, 6 TD. He led Iowa in receiving yards (with almost 240 more yards than the next-closest player, Fant with 519) and finished second in receptions (behind Nick Easley's 52) and touchdowns (behind Fant's seven scores). Hockenson blended smart route-running with very good speed and excellent leaping ability to be a force in the passing game. He was also a spectacular force in the blocking game, routinely delivering highlight blocks to unsuspecting defenders and creating opportunities for Iowa's running backs.
Hockenson's presence will be sorely missed by the Iowa offense next year, but we wish him the very best as he embarks on the next stage of his career. Knock 'em dead in the NFL, T.J. TE U is sending another star to the professional ranks.