Iowa football will be heading to Florida to face Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl. The Hawkeyes will be without star right end Noah Fant for the occasion.
Fant, expected to be one of the first tight ends off the board in this spring’s NFL Draft, announced late last week that he would be stepping away from the program in anticipation of the Draft.
He follows a rising trend among college stars whose teams are not competing for a national title in the post-season. Former star college running backs Christian McCaffrey were among those who made the call a few years ago. This season, he is being joined by South Carolina do-it-all wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who has an injury history and will be sitting out the Belk Bowl vs. Virginia.
Noah Fant’s Iowa football teammates have weighed in on his NFL Draft and Outback Bowl decision.
T.J. Hockenson, Fant’s positionmate who is also one of the Big Ten’s best tight ends, wished Fant well. He will be the main beneficiary of Fant’s absence.
From the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier:
“Next man in, and we do have good depth in the tight end room,’’ sophomore T.J. Hockenson said. “Noah did what he felt he needed to do and that’s great, we wish him well, but our energies have to be focused on the guys who are here.’’
Quarterback Nate Stanley stopped short of totally criticizing his former top target, but he clearly isn’t thrilled about the call.
“Noah’s a great guy and I feel like he’s going to go on and have a great career in the NFL,’’ quarterback Nate Stanley sad. “The timing, it’s a little disappointing because he is such a big part of our offense. It’s not just the balls he catches. It’s what he does that allows other people to get open.’’
That’s roughly the same tact that head coach Kirk Ferentz has taken.
Fant caught 39 passes for 519 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He scored 11 touchdowns in 2017.