Fall camp has yet to begin and there is already one true freshman at Iowa creating some buzz early on from summer workouts. They aren't doing a whole lot right now besides some team stuff here and there without the coaches and being in the weight room with Coach Doyle but one of the newcomers has left an impression on some of the Hawkeye contingent.
That guy would be Omaha (Neb.) South tight end Noah Fant who picked Iowa over others from the likes of UCLA, Nebraska, and Minnesota among others. He has some position versatility to his game, being able to star on either side of the football, but Fant will begin his career at Iowa City as a tight end. With the depth chart not being customarily loaded at tight end at Iowa like it usually is, he already stood a strong chance to receive early playing time. But the first impressions he has left should only increase that likelihood.
He's done everything they've asked and more according to head coach Kirk Ferentz.
"Like every player that comes through our program, we just ask him to invest every day and work had and do a good job," Ferentz said about Fant in Chicago at Big Ten Media Days. "Thus far, that's exactly what he's done. He's done a real nice job."
"You know, we'll let him progress at his rate," Ferentz added. "The biggest thing we do with all of our guys is ask them to do the best they can do and things will work out. If they're good enough, it will work out. I have no doubt that he'll do a very nice job."
Ferentz's quarterback was of the Iowa players to notify Ferentz of Fant's early impressive play.
"I was having a meal with our players (a few nights ago) and C.J. Beathard made a comment about him and how nice of a job he's doing on the field."
Beathard later described the impressive play he had seen from Fant while speaking to media members in Chicago, citing his athleticism as one of Fant's strengths.
"He's incredibly athletic," Beathard shared about the freshman tight end. "I've seen it just when I've been throwing to him. The first time I threw balls to him he showed very natural hands. He moves his body very well on the back shoulder balls. He catches those balls very easily. He's very fast and he jumps really high. He's just real athletic and has a natural ability to catch the ball."
Iowa did win out for Fant's services but not without a little drama. They pulled the Omaha native away from the Huskers and kept him from Lincoln and they also withstood a late push from Minnesota. One of the draws to Iowa City for Fant was that he could play tight end. A few other schools saw him more as a defensive end but the Hawkeyes always informed him his first shot would be tight end.
"Just for the record, we would be happy to have him on either side of the football," Ferentz pointed out. "He's an outstanding player. If we let our coaches fight over it, they'd still be fighting probably."
"My message to him was that I thought he had some talents and abilities offensively that were a little bit uncommon and if he would really run the course with those and do as well as he could, he might have an opportunity to develop into a real special tight end," Ferentz continued. "Not that he couldn't have been a special defensive player but, me personally, I thought that (tight end) was his best position and something I guess he bought into as well."
George Kittle is the unquestioned starter at tight end and the current back-up is listed as walk-on Peter Pekar or scholarship player Jon Wisnieski. Jameer Outsey transferred after the Spring. With nobody proven or running away with the spot behind Kittle, Fant has a path to the field as a true freshman if he continues his upward trajectory.