Tony Moeaki is this year’s America Needs Farmers honoree. The award recognizes former Hawkeyes who exemplify the traits of an Iowa farmer. He’ll be the 10th Hawkeye to be added to the wall of honor this Saturday, and spoke with reporters following Kirk Ferentz’s press conference.
The former tight end donned black and gold from 2005-2009, arriving as a five-star recruit and earning all Big-Ten honors during his time in Iowa City. He was named an offensive team captain in 2009 and had a reputation for playing through injury. After a seven-year NFL career, Moeaki says he’s doing quite alright.
“I just had a daughter and I’m married and live in the suburbs of Chicago,” Moeaki, a Wheaton, Illinois native said. “I’m excited to be home at Kinnick — my family’s coming down. It’s gonna be a great weekend.”
Moeaki played in 48 games over the course of his five-year collegiate career. He talked about the advantage of playing at Kinnick during his presser.
“I have a lot of friends that didn’t go to Iowa ask me how Kinnick is, and they don’t realize how close the sidelines are to the the stands,” said Moeaki. “The fans are cheering loud and this is a tough place to play. So looking back at some other stadiums I played in, it was louder than any of the other big stadiums.”
Moeaki also took a trip down memory lane and recalled meeting Kirk Ferentz as an underclassman in high school, and recalled how easy of a choice it was to play for the Hawkeyes.
“He was one of my favorite coaches to talk to when I was younger,” Moeaki remembered. “And I knew the program that he ran and it was everything I thought it was gonna be. Then coming to Iowa City a few times for visits. The people and the fans were so nice and Coach Ferentz was awesome.”
The 2009 season was Moeaki’s favorite, as the Hawkeyes put together an 11-2 season that netted them the 7th overall ranking in the AP poll. It concluded with Moeaki playing in and winning his final college football game.
“I don’t think preseason we were given a chance in the Big Ten,” Moeaki said.
Yet the Hawkeyes won their first nine games and finished as Big Ten runner ups. They earned themselves a trip to the Orange Bowl and took down No. 9 ranked Georgia Tech 24-14.
“I just felt like we all thought — we all knew — we were going to figure out a way to win those games and to finish it off in Miami with the Orange [Bowl]. Was awesome to do for Coach Ferentz.”
Kirk Ferentz shared in a press release his appreciation for his time coaching Tony, and feels he’s deserving of the honor:
“Tony earned accolades for his play on the field, but he was also a natural leader. His fight and determination to overcome injuries and adversity while getting stronger and improving his game earned respect from those who knew him, and that dedication and drive is what ANF is all about.”
Moeaki joins other decorated Iowa alumni to receive the honor, such as Marshal Yanda, Chad Greenway and Dallas Clark.