Iowa football: Top father and son duos in Hawkeyes history

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 21: Tight end George Kittle
IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 21: Tight end George Kittle /
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Bruce and George Kittle

First, I need to just start off by saying this family is athletic royalty in the state of Iowa. It’s absurd how many of the children, grandchildren, etc have been standout athletes in Bruce and George’s family.

Unlike the other two duos on this list, this father/son duo is actually strengthened more by the father’s time with the Iowa football program. Although an argument could be made for Kittle’s NFL career having some sort of impact on this list (it doesn’t).

Bruce Kittle joined the Iowa football program in the first year of Hayden Fry’s legendary tenure and helped build the team up. He was a four-year letter winner, a two-year starter, and he was co-captain of Iowa’s 1981 team that went 8-4 and made the Rose Bowl. Since playing for the Hawks, Bruce has dabbled in law, public speaking, coaching, and raising a future NFL tight end.

George’s recruitment was light at best. Teams weren’t quite sure what to do with Kittle. Was he a WR, an OLB, or a TE? At 6’4” and 205 pounds, it wasn’t exactly easy to project Kittle at the next level, and he didn’t receive an opportunity to play for the Hawks til late in the recruiting process. Making it even weirder is while Iowa was looking into Kittle, Bruce was actually coaching at Oklahoma. However, George made his choice, and the rest is history.

From a statistical perspective, Kittle’s tight end career was okay at best for the Iowa football program. He started 17 games total, and he wasn’t a full-time starter until his senior year. In his last two years combined, he caught 42 balls for 604 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those are somewhat comparable to TJ Hockenson in one season.

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Nonetheless, Kittle’s athleticism wowed teams, and he was selected by the 49ers on day three of the 2016 NFL Draft. Just a few years later, George Kittle is arguably the best tight end in the NFL and George and his father Bruce are one of the three best father/son duos in the past 20 seasons.