Tuesday, January 19, 2010
From Michael Maxwell's "Hawkeyes Football: Just Call Iowa “Tight End U”"
January 13, 2010
For years Penn St. has been fondly known as “Linebacker U”. That is a name that has stuck because linebacker is certainly the glamour position on defense, and Penn St. has produced more than their fair share of talented backers over the years.
Conversely, I’m sure few people would refer to tight end as a glamour position on offense. The tight end has become somewhat of a lost art in this day and age of the sophisticated spread offenses.
Yet, nobody takes better advantage of the tight end in the country than Iowa. In fact, Iowa’s pro style offense is one of only a few teams in the Big 10 where the tight end still plays a prominent role in both the passing and running games.
While it might not have as much cache and glamour as the term “Linebacker U”, there is no question that the University of Iowa has earned the title “Tight End U”. A connection to the blue collar position of tight end is perfectly suited to the gritty, never-say-die attitude of recent Hawkeye teams led by Kirk Ferentz.
This prestigious designation as “Tight End U” is based upon not only the recent talent the program has produced at tight end, but also the historic talent going all the way back to the early days of the Hayden Fry Era.
Dallas Clark (2000-2002)
Hard to believe that Dallas Clark only played two seasons at tight end at Iowa. Clark made the team as a walk-on linebacker in 2000 but was converted to tight end during spring practice in 2001. What a move that turned out to be!
In 2002, Clark enjoyed one of the greatest years of any tight end in school history. He had 43 receptions for 742 yards and four touchdowns. He was a consensus All-America and won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end in 2002.
Clark left Iowa after his junior season and was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round, where he has developed into one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets. Clark won the Super Bowl with the Colts following the 2006 season and in February 2008 signed a multiyear deal with the Colts that made him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL.