The Iowa football program is known by many as “Tight End U,” producing many productive NFL tight ends such as George Kittle, Dallas Clark, TJ Hockenson, and Noah Fant. Sophmore Sam LaPorta is already making an impact at the position, and getting some great advice from Iowa legends.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with both — moreso Hockenson, Dallas Clark, and a little bit with Kittle,” LaPorta said. “They just told me to be my own person, you know? Play the Iowa way, play physical, play tough, and do everything right — the little things. It’s awesome to have a lot of great mentors like that, the kind to lead you a long the path that you want to go down.”
“Sam is a really good player,” Iowa quarterback Spencer Petrassaid. “I think he has developed a lot, and it’s getting to a point where he understands coverage well, and how to beat coverage, which is what we want out of a veteran tight end. He is certainly a very good athlete, he can make a lot of plays.”
LaPorta wasn’t always a tight end. In high school, Sam played wide receiver — and basketball — before making the transition when arriving to Iowa City.
“Definitely learning a new position is always tough and obviously the transition from college from high school is hard for a lot of student athletes coming in,” said LaPorta. “Just the physicality, and the speed of the game. It was really hard coming in and learning a new position, coming from high school playing receiver, coming to a Big Ten university and playing tight end.”
LaPorta caught the eyes of the coaching staff last season getting reps as a freshman tight end. Now Sam believes he is ready for a big jump in Year 2.
“We were watching film from last year, and it just looks like — I don’t know — it looks like a completely different person out there to me,” La Porta said. “Just how far I’ve come a full offseason, the weight training and watching film, and just learning the offense more and better adept. I see a significant difference in my game in the way I process things faster. I think I came a long way, I am proud of myself for that. I needed to come a long way.”
“He just a good player,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The common denominator is that he loves football, he loves playing, he loves being out on the field. In that way a little bit Dallas Clark-ish almost. Dallas made you feel good when you stand in the same room as him, he just made you feel like the guy really enjoys this environment.”
LaPorta led the team with 5 receptions and 71 yards against Purdue.