Do future Iowa tight ends Logan Lee and Josiah Miamen remind you of Hockenson and Fant? You're not alone
Josiah Miamen’s recruitment wasn’t really catching steam when he was a sophomore. He remembers his high school coach pulled him aside to discuss ways to get noticed.
And, for extra motivation, he told Miamen about another Illinois tight end who was definitely getting noticed.
"'There’s some kid up in Orion who’s a state championship wrestler,'" Miamen recalls his coach saying, "'and he's really getting a lot of buzz.'"
That Orion kid’s name? Logan Lee.
Lee hauled in offers from Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ole Miss, Minnesota, Michigan State and Wisconsin after a monster sophomore season. He wound up committing to Iowa the summer after that sophomore year.
Miamen’s recruitment blossomed after his junior season, and he committed to Iowa over Wisconsin in September.
Now, this week, both Illinois kids — the early bloomer and the late bloomer — will sign their National Letter of Intent with Iowa, officially becoming one of the program’s most highly regarded tight end recruiting classes.
"Finally getting together and being able to work together will be really nice," Miamen told the Register. "Having two people with that much talent? It should be good."
On paper, Lee and Miamen resemble the Hawkeyes’ 2016 class of tight ends.
If you don’t remember those guys, here’s a reminder: Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson.
Miamen, out of the Peoria area’s Dunlap High, is a jaw-dropping athlete who pairs receiver skills with the 6-foot-4 frame of a tight end. Lee is an old school, smash-mouth tight end who can catch passes but takes pride in blocking guys in the trenches.
"Hockenson and Fant really became a good duo, but maybe on paper coming in it wasn’t as obvious," 247Sports Midwest recruiting analyst Allen Trieu said. "Whereas I think the two guys now, you have a very obvious receiver, flex guy in Josiah, and then a very obvious traditional tight end who can be an on-the-ball blocker as well as a receiver in Logan. I would almost say that, on paper, these two guys complement each other a little bit better than what you maybe thought coming in with Fant and Hockenson."
247Sports ranks Miamen the No. 588 prospect in 2019 and the No. 26 tight end in the class. It ranked Fant No. 441 in 2016 and No. 31 among the class’ athletes. Miamen said, for most of his life, he thought the NFL was a pipe dream.
But that dream feels more tangible after seeing what Fant, his player host during his Iowa official visit, accomplished with the Hawkeyes.
"Just the athleticism," Miamen said of his similarities with Fant. "The true receiver ability that each of us have, just being able to go up and get the ball and do stuff that a lot of tight ends aren’t easily able to do — and to make it look effortless while doing it."
Lee is ranked No. 321 in 2019 and No. 14 among tight ends by 247Sports. Those numbers are a heck of a lot better than Hockenson’s, who was underrated at No. 1,182 overall and No. 54 among tight ends in 2016.
"I really like the fact that he’s such a good blocker," Lee said of this year’s Mackey Award winner. "That really sticks out to me. ... My highlight film is pretty even from catches to blocks. You don't really see that much in other tight ends."
Now, here’s the part where we ask: How soon might these guys get on the field?
Fant has already declared for the NFL Draft. Hockenson is still mulling his decision, but his NFL stock soared as the season progressed.
If Hockenson joins Fant in the professional ranks, Iowa will return two tight ends with significant playing experience in Shaun Beyer and Nate Wieting. Beyer suffered an undisclosed, non-contact knee injury in October, though, and missed the rest of the season. We’ll see if he can return by the start of next year.
Translation: If Hockenson leaves, things are up in the air.
"(Iowa’s coaches) said everything’s up for grabs right now," Lee said.
In terms of his build, Lee will be close to college-ready as a freshman. He is already up to 245 pounds as he adds weight for wrestling season. Lee was also a star defensive end at Orion, and he said Iowa has told him it might consider playing him at that position — which is losing Sam Brincks, Parker Hesse and Matt Nelson to graduation.
"I’m pretty close to weight, so being able to maintain weight (is key)," Lee said. "They said they can’t really judge right now. They’ll have to make the decision once I get there."
Added Orion head coach Chip Filler: "The big thing that they’ve said, and they’ve been very consistent with this: 'You come in, you do it our way, and if you’re able to play, we’ll going to play you. We’ve got the four-game redshirt deal, so you’re going to be on the field somewhere, in some kind of capacity.'"
During his recent school visit with Brian Ferentz, Miamen said his future offensive coordinator told him not to worry about his immediate role at Iowa.
"He said we’ll figure all that stuff out when I get here," Miamen said. "I expect nothing but great things from myself. I think that I’m going to be able to go there and I’m going to work my a-- off. I think the results will come with that."
Dunlap head coach Brett Cazalet still remembers the phone call he got from Brian Ferentz last year. Iowa had originally offered Miamen as a defensive end. But …
"Brian saw his film and called me and was like, 'Yeah, he’s a tight end. We’re offering him as a tight end,'" Cazalet said with a laugh. "I think they realize what special talent they’re getting in Josiah. As far as pure, physical football players, he’s talent. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. He’s unbelievable with his catch radius and his ball skills. He’s got all the tools. I think he’ll have a great career over there at Iowa, that’s for sure."
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.