The tight end position in college football for most programs around the country may be fading fast with all the different formations coaches have come up with. Those spread attacks don’t necessarily need big tight ends running down the field.
However, at the University of Iowa, the tight end position remains a staple in the offense. In fact, the position is a key to offense.
The Iowa coaching staff loads up on tight ends each and every year because if those guys do not work out at tight end, they can always gain weight with the strength and conditioning program and end up an all-American lineman, just like Robert Gallery did.
The program continues to thrive with good tight ends because of guys like Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler, Brandon Myers, Tony Moeaki, Allen Reisner and others.
Today, it is time to break down this year’s group of tight ends and what is expected from the position this season in Iowa City.
The only tight end on the roster with any kind of true game experience is senior Brad Herman, who was the primary backup to Reisner last season. He played in 13 games and started once but only had nine catches for 154 yards. His primary role was as a blocker. And at 6-foot-5, 247 pounds, he excelled in that role for the Hawkeyes.
The likely replacement for Reisner this season will be sophomore stud C.J. Fiedorowicz, who was highly recruited out of Illinois. Fiedorowicz was the No. 2 ranked tight end nationally coming out of high school and chose the Hawks over other programs such as LSU, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois and Arizona.
And he did so because he saw how much the tight end is featured in the offense.
While fans are waiting for Fiedorowicz (6-foot-7, 250 pounds) to get a chance to be in the rotation, the biggest question will be if Herman extends his role to more of a pass catcher or if he remains a blocker first and allows Fiedorowicz to be the primary tight end target from quarterback James Vandenberg.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that both tight ends are on the field at the same time because that has been a staple of the offense in recent years under head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Other players who could see time on special teams or in backup roles this season are junior Zach Derby and redshirt freshman Austin Vier, who are both native Iowans.
Derby came to Iowa from Iowa City where he played with current Hawkeye center James Ferentz. Derby also is the older brother of Iowa quarterback A.J. Derby, who was a four-star recruit out of high school.
Vier has a little growing to do and another year in the program should serve him well. It is not likely he sees the field this year unless there are a rash of injuries at the position.
Locked In Starters
Brad Herman — This senior was the primary backup to Allen Reisner last year so he becomes the obvious choice to start the season as the starter. He had nine catches for 154 yards last season but was used mostly as a blocker on running plays.
C.J. Fiedorowicz — This hightly touted prospect out of Illinois has fans buzzing about his potential at the position. He could end up being one of the best tight ends to ever play at the school. This may be his year to breakthrough and show everyone he can live up his hype.
Zach Derby — Junior from Iowa City who will have a valuable role on special teams. He played in 10 games last year and made one catch for 10 yards.
Austin Vier — This Huxley native sat out last year and will need another year to develop before getting a chance to play. He also is 6-foot-7 and came to Iowa as a quarterback at Ballard High School.
Ray Hamilton, Jake Duzey and Henry Krieger-Coble
Hamilton has the best chance to play this year as he is the most ready. I would envision all three of these prospects sitting out this season but will get their chance to play significant roles later on their careers.