The Hawkeyes came into 2022 with one set-in-stone playmaker: Tight end Sam LaPorta. With questions and injuries at receiver and an inexperienced core of running backs, the tight end position was the only one the team could rely on to produce at a successful level.

What few predicted was Iowa’s second string tight end, Luke Lachey breaking through the way that he did late in the season. The sophomore led the team in receiving touchdowns with four, and caught 15 passes over his final three games. He finished with 28 catches for 398 yards.

One of those receptions was preceded a game-winning field goal over Minnesota. In a game with 23 total points and LaPorta exiting with a leg injury, Lachey’s ascension under pressure was what resonated with Kirk Ferentz the most.

“I think he took off in particular when Sam was out,” Ferentz said at Big Ten Football Media Days. “I think that’s what gave us a glimpse of what he can become.”

Lachey, of course, was one of three Hawkeye players who represented the team in Indianapolis last week.

“It’s really cool, it’s not something most athletes get to experience,” Lachey said. “I feel like it’s an Iowa story with guys that waited their turn and continuously work hard at everything.”

And now Lachey takes the reigns as TE1 at Tight End U. The Hawkeyes have a longstanding tradition of churning out NFL tight ends, from Clark to Kittle to LaPorta and now Luke Lachey.

“It’s really an honor to be at the same school as these guys were,” Lachey said. “I really enjoy the opportunity to wear the same helmet and jersey as them.”

Lachey turned heads last season, he won’t be able to sneak up on any wise opponents this season.

“I think he’s a top-notch player,” Ferentz said. “Maybe not one of the best in the country, but he’s one of the best in the country — in my opinion.”

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