Matt VandeBerg gets approval for Hawkeye return

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

Just in time for Christmas, Matt VandeBerg’s wish for a fifth year at Iowa has come true.

The wide receiver’s medical-hardship waiver has been approved by the Big Ten Conference, clearing his path to play for the 2017 Hawkeyes, the university confirmed Wednesday.

VandeBerg was Iowa’s leading receiver with 65 catches in 2015 and its No. 1 target again this fall before breaking his left foot during a Sept. 26 practice.


Turns out, it was a season-ending injury – not a college career-ending one.

In a Nov. 22 interview, VandeBerg remained optimistic that his appeal would be granted.

Matt VandeBerg hauled in seven passes for 129 yards in Iowa's 42-3 win against Iowa State on Sept. 10.

“God has a plan. I truly believe there is a blessing in everything. A blessing in disguise,” VandeBerg said then. “It’s up to you if you decide you’re going to go find it, or if you’re just going to be somber and let it bring you down.”

VandeBerg played in four games, the maximum allowed under the NCAA handbook’s formula for medical-hardship consideration. To be approved, the four games must also occur in the first half of the season.  

In VandeBerg’s case, unlike with Drew Ott a year ago, it was a pretty straight-forward decision. The Brandon, S.D., native was so confident it’d go through that he didn’t participate in Iowa’s Senior Day ceremony Nov. 25.

The return of VandeBerg is a huge boost to the Hawkeyes, not only in the passing game (he has 106 career receptions for 1,302 yards) but in the team’s culture. VandeBerg is a member of Iowa’s Leadership Group and was a gameday co-captain before his injury.

VandeBerg is on track to graduate in May and last month said that he and fiancée Laura Bulanda (whom he proposed to after his seven-catch, 129-yard game vs. Iowa State) were planning a summer wedding.