Hawkeyes offer scholarship to Chariton's T.J. Hockenson

Andy Hamilton
Chariton sophomore tight end T.J. Hockenson in action in his sophomore season.

T.J. Hockenson's parents attended Iowa State, but each time his brothers found him in Cyclone gear they swapped it for Iowa apparel and the Chariton tight end wound up rooting for the Hawkeyes.

Then Iowa State offered him a scholarship and the Cyclones moved to the top of Hockenson's list of college options.

At least until Sunday.

That's when Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz called Hockenson into his office after a camp in Iowa City and extended an offer to play for the Hawkeyes.

"It's one of the best feelings I've ever had," Hockenson said. "Just the work you put in and everything that goes into the scholarship, it's all worth it when you hear those words out of the coach's mouth."

Hockenson was one of four in-state prospects who picked up scholarship offers from the Hawkeyes after the Iowa camp.

Pella defensive end Austin Schulte and Cedar Falls offensive lineman Spencer Williams, who had been committed to Western Michigan, announced on Twitter that they picked up offers and HawkeyeReport.com reported that Iowa also offered Algona offensive lineman Cole Banwart.

Blocking was apparently the last box Hockenson needed to check for the Hawkeyes.

College coaches had seen his pass-catching skills throughout the past two years. He hauled in 133 receptions for 2,047 yards and 28 touchdowns as a sophomore and junior. He led Class 3-A this past season in catches (73), receiving yards (1,116) and touchdown catches (18).

But questions surfaced about his ability to hold up as a blocker, primarily because the 6-foot-5, 230-pound rising senior hadn't been required to do much of it.

"That was the big question coming in — whether or not I could block," he said. "At my high school, we throw the ball a lot and a lot of the time it's to me, so I'm not blocking too much. But I've been working on it the last few weeks and it was really big the last couple days."

Hockenson said Iowa tight ends coach LeVar Woods told him he was impressed with the blocking skills he demonstrated during the camp.

"They weren't sure how physical I'd be and what I would do mentally — if I'd shut down or if I'd keep going," he said. "(Woods) said he was really impressed and said he was happy I kept going and held my own with all the D-ends."

Hockenson, who also has an offer from Eastern Michigan, wouldn't tip his hand on which direction he's leaning now. He plans to attend camps at Minnesota and Missouri and intends to make another trip to Ames before consulting with his family and making a commitment.

"I'm letting this all sink in," he said. "It's so surreal."