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Moeaki hopes for full season

BY BRENDAN STILES | AUGUST 25, 2009 7:05 AM

Iowa tight end Tony Moeaki takes down South Carolina’s Chris Culliver during a punt return in the fourth quarter of the Outback Bowl In Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 1. Moeaki finished with 43 yards during the contest, including a 39-yard reception.

In recent years, numerous tight ends have enjoyed success at Iowa. Past players such as Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler, and Brandon Myers were all drafted after playing for Hawkeye head man Kirk Ferentz.

Senior tight end Tony Moeaki hopes to carry on the legacy for the 22nd-ranked Hawkeyes this season.

Other than perhaps Moeaki himself, no one seems more excited about his return to the gridiron this fall than Ferentz. While teammates haven’t noticed any major changes in Moeaki’s demeanor, Ferentz described him as being “wired up” for this upcoming season.

“He has been training like crazy, and he’s got the chance to be as good a tight end as we’ve had, and we’ve had some good tight ends going back a long ways,” Ferentz said on July 27 during Big Ten media days in Chicago.

Moeaki has always looked the part of a tight end who could one day play in the NFL. Whether his 35-yard touchdown reception at Illinois in 2006 or his three-touchdown performance against Syracuse in 2007, the Wheaton, Ill., native has shown the Hawkeye faithful everything he is capable of doing when he’s healthy.

But then, injuries kept him out of eight games in 2007 and four games last season. Essentially, Moeaki spent a full year of games watching from the sidelines. However, he returned for Iowa’s final two games in 2008, one of which featured him scoring a touchdown during the Hawkeyes’ 55-0 thrashing of Minnesota.

Moeaki, who has yet to catch more than 14 passes during a single season, said he is as healthy now as he has been entering any season he has played. His mindset remains set on one objective — providing the Hawkeyes with as much of a contribution as possible.

“I’m excited to get out there again,” he said. “Once the season gets here, I think it will really hit me.”

Another tight end to keep an eye on this fall is junior Allen Reisner, who gained plenty of game experience in 2008 playing alongside Moeaki and Myers. Last fall, Reisner hauled in 11 receptions for 200 yards. Among his highlights were a touchdown catch in a 38-16 victory over Wisconsin and a crucial two-point conversion reception that tied the Hawkeyes’ contest with Illinois at 24-24 before the Fighting Illini pulled away.

Reisner believes the experience will prove to be beneficial but that there is still plenty for him to learn as he moves forward with his career.

“I think we’ve just improved in all aspects of our game,” the Marion native said about himself and Moeaki. “With my being younger and still learning everything, there’s always room for me to get better.”

Both Moeaki and Reisner, as well as sophomore Brad Herman, will be among the group of tight ends being counted upon this season for the Hawkeyes.

“We do use our tight end a lot for running and passing and to have a guy like Tony available helps out our team a lot,” senior wide receiver Trey Stross said. “Hopefully, we can keep him healthy and Reisner healthy, and basically all the receivers healthy and be a good team.”


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