After much speculation about the Iowa football team exploring the graduate transfer market, Kirk Ferentz and his staff made a mover to bolster the d-line.
Just over a week ago, we made a list of five graduate transfers that would make the most sense for the Iowa football team. This list included two defensive lineman that we thought might make sense for the Hawks to pursue.
Given the lack of depth on the defensive line (all four starters leaving for the NFL, Daviyon Nixon exploring the transfer portal, and Tyler Linderbaum shifting over to the offensive line), the Hawkeyes needed to make a move that would benefit the team immediately.
Although the move Iowa ultimately made wasn’t one we expected, it’s huge nonetheless.
This weekend it was announced that former Hillsdale College defensive lineman Zach VanValkenburg would be joing the Iowa football program as a graduate transfer.
His immediate eligibility is key, but overlooked is the fact that he also has two years of NCAA eligibility remaining making a position of severely limited depth, a relative strength (at least at the top of the depth chart).
Here is VanValkenburg’s twitter announcement.
While it’s almost a certainty that very few Iowa football fans have ever heard of this guy, he will likely be a day one contributor for the Hawks when the season begins against Miami of Ohio.
As a redshirt sophomore, the 6’4”, 266-pound defensive lineman notched 70 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 14.5 tackles for loss at the Division II level. He also managed to force three fumbles during that time.
Unheralded coming out of high school, VanValkenburg received interest from Air Force and Holy Cross, but ultimately when the route of Division II.
Now, after three years of hard work and dedication, he will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level under Kirk Ferentz’s tutelage.
As of right now, VanValkenburg will likely fill in as a second-string defensive end behind AJ Epenesa, which considering how often Phil Parker likes to rotate his defensive lines in and out, could mean we see the former D-II player around 15-20 snaps a game.
If nothing else, he will provide competition behind potential All-American AJ Epenesa.