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Chariton Iowa is buzzing about hometown hero T.J. Hockenson's NFL Draft prospects Zachary Boyden-Holmes, DesMoines

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When it came to deciding on the NFL, T.J. Hockenson took a bit longer than his Iowa teammates to make a decision.

Hockenson heavily considered returning to Iowa City for another season. But the bright lights of professional football couldn't be ignored. Everything came together Thursday night, as Hockenson added his name among the long list of Hawkeye draft picks.

The Detroit Lions selected Hockenson No. 8 overall Thursday in Nashville, making him just the eighth player drafted in the first round under Kirk Ferentz. Hockenson is the program's first skill player picked in the opening round since tight end Dallas Clark in 2003. 

► More: NFL Draft pick T.J. Hockenson is the pride of Chariton, especially this week

Hockenson thundered onto the scene in 2018. He averaged 15.5 yards per reception and scored six touchdowns as Iowa's primary passing target. His 760 receiving yards ranked fourth nationally among tight ends. Hockenson rightfully won the Mackey Award as the country's best tight end.

Hockenson didn't declare for the NFL draft until Jan. 14, but he soon skyrocketed up everyone's big board. Come Thursday, most mock drafts had Hockenson going in the top 10.

That buzz matched reality. Hockenson was all smiles as he soaked in this memorable moment.   

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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