Iowa football picks up 2 more commitments

Andy Hamilton
Norwalk senior defensive back Collin Schiltz tackles Chariton sophomore tight end T.J. Hockenson during the second quarter of a Sept. 13 game in Norwalk.

The big frame and big numbers might have opened the door to major college football for T.J. Hockenson.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end from Chariton caught six touchdowns in a game last fall against Saydel. He made 16 grabs for 282 yards the following week against Mount Pleasant. He finished the season as the Class 3-A leader in receptions (73), receiving yards (1,116) and touchdown catches (18).

But Hockenson had to show he could block, too, before Iowa extended a scholarship. And when he proved capable earlier this month at a camp in Iowa City, it changed the course of an in-state recruiting race.

Hockenson, an all-state selection in football and basketball, committed Friday to Iowa, according to multiple outlets. Voice of the Hawkeyes and reported the Chariton star picked Iowa over Iowa State, which had been at the top of his list for much of the spring. He also held an offer from Eastern Michigan.

Chariton coach Curt Smyser said Friday evening that he hadn't heard from Hockenson but sensed the tight end, who was in Iowa City, was leaning toward the Hawkeyes.

"It wouldn't surprise me," Smyser said. "We've been talking about it a lot this week."

Iowa also secured a commitment Friday from three-star linebacker Nick Niemann, the 6-3, 205-pound younger brother of Hawkeye linebacker Ben Niemann.

Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois and Iowa State were among the 10 schools that offered the Sycamore, Ill., native.

"What I've seen on film is solid. Probably not 'wow,' but solid," Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt said. "I really want to see what senior year film looks like compared to junior film. Where are we seeing the improvements?"