The Iowa City faithful have known Lukas Van Ness as a freak of nature for quite some time. He threw around opposing quarterbacks like ragdolls, steamrolled the best offensive lineman in the sport — all while leading the team in sacks and pressures in 2022.
The Green Bay Packers were sold on “Hercules,” and selected him with the 13th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Lukas’ new defensive staff is getting their first hands-on look at the 6-foot-5, 275-pound behemoth. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry is seeing what Hawkeyes already know.
“Have you seen him in person? He’s a big, big man, and he’s young,” Barry said. “Putting my evaluator hat on, when you see a guy that walks in a room — he’s got length and explosion. And then you look at the fact that he’s 21 years old.”
“It’s scary when you get a young player like that to close your eyes and think about what those guys will be three, four, five years down the road when they are 25-26 years old.”
Lukas, as always, looks the part — even in trading his black and gold for green and gold. One of the things that’s stood out to the young Van Ness is the reverberating importance of honoring history. He gushed about how his Hawkeye roots allowed him to blossom into one of the most coveted football prospects in America.
“[Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz] is a big history guy, loves to bring up past teams, past players — and the way they went about their business and the standard that they held,” Van Ness said. “That’s the standard they set and the standard they want Coach Ferentz to uphold.”
“Having a coach like Coach Ferentz who has been in the NFL and coached at the collegiate level for a long time — he’s had a ton of experience and he’s really good. We’re a developmental factory at Iowa — he takes guys that are underrecruited, he develops them into true men and true football players and prepares them for the NFL.”
“There are so many guys who have rolled through the university of Iowa that have gone on to play at the next level. There are lists of people I’ve watched and learned from. Coming in there was a couple of guys on the way out — A.J. Epenesa, Chauncey Golston and Jack Heflin was up here for a little bit. So, I came in at an awesome time.”
“I surrounded myself with vets and guys who succeeded at a high level and learned from them.”
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