Iowa football's Sam LaPorta selected by Detroit Lions in second round of the 2023 NFL Draft

Iowa football's tight end history is well-documented, and Sam LaPorta has some of the biggest statistics of all.

He graduated ranked first in career receptions (153) and second in receiving yards (1786), and now the 2022 Big Ten Tight End of the Year officially joins past Hawkeye greats in the NFL. LaPorta was selected by the Detroit Lions with the No. 34 overall pick (second round) in the 2023 NFL Draft on Friday night.

He will join teammate Jack Campbell, who was Detroit's first-round pick Thursday.

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LaPorta decided to forego the 2022 NFL Draft to return to Iowa for one final season and is rewarded with a high selection in the 2023 Draft. Last season he led the team with 58 catches for 607 yards and took on several responsibilities. Due to injury issues at wide receiver, LaPorta often lined up as an outside receiver to fill a void. His versatility was perhaps his biggest asset this season. He was the most reliable player on an offense that struggled throughout 2022.

But his standout moment came at the end of the season when he returned to play in Iowa's Music City Bowl win over Kentucky after suffering a leg injury at the end of the regular season. An All-Big Ten selection, LaPorta could've sat out, but opted to play through the injury and delivered a signature play: A 27-yard catch and run which included several missed tackles.

More:What the Detroit Lions are getting in Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta

His toughness is another component to his ascension up draft boards.

In Detroit, LaPorta will join the team with the expectation of being an immediate contributor. He will join the Iowa tight end fraternity that includes George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers), Noah Fant (Seattle Seahawks) and TJ Hockenson (Minnesota Vikings) with the hopes of carving out his own story professionally.