By CHRIS NELSEN
Special to the Register
Indianapolis, Ind. — Allen Reisner hopes to continue the tradition of former Iowa Hawkeye tight ends playing in the NFL. His first step began Thursday at the league’s annual scouting combine.
The 6-foot-3, 248-pound Reisner could become the third Iowa tight end selected in the NFL Draft in three years, joining former teammates Brandon Myers, a sixth-round pick by Oakland in 2009, and Tony Moeaki, a third-round selection by Kansas City last year.
“I’ve heard that Iowa is ‘Tight End U,’ ” Reisner said Thursday. “We have a lot of guys that played in the (NFL) or are still in the league. That’s a great honor to be part of that group.”
Unlike some former Hawkeye tight ends, such as Indianapolis Colts star Dallas Clark and Moeaki, Reisner doesn’t enter the combine with a lot of hype. Stuck behind Myers and Moeaki most of his college career, Reisner spent only one season as a full-time starter.
He started all 13 games in 2010, grabbing 42 receptions for 460 yards and two touchdowns. He was named second-team all-Big Ten by league coaches and honorable mention by league media.
“I played behind two great tight ends, Brandon and Tony,” Reisner said. “It was really nice to learn from those guys. I learned from them, picked up some things. I finally got my chance to prove I could be a starting tight end for Iowa.
“It’s been a long road, and I’m really honored to be here at the combine. It’s definitely a big honor for me.”
His road to the combine nearly went through Cedar Falls. With only one scholarship offer out of Marion High School, Reisner was expecting to play football at Northern Iowa. Those plans changed just days before national signing day in 2007.
“I didn’t have any other offers on the table, so (Northern Iowa) knew they were going to get me for a steal,” Reisner said. “Three days before signing day, coach (Kirk) Ferentz called and offered me a scholarship.
“Growing up, I didn’t really watch the Hawks a whole lot. All my friends did, so I kind of lived their dream of playing for Iowa. But I embraced it, too.”
With a number of tight ends rated ahead of him entering the combine, Reisner said he’s not focused on when — or if — he will be selected in April’s draft. His plan is to impress NFL coaches and scouts in Indianapolis and let the chips fall where they may.
“I’m versatile. I can play any position,” he said. “I can play fullback, H-back, tight end, you can split me out. I have a knack to get open. I showed that I can get open on one-on-one routes against linebackers.”
His trip to the combine took an unexpected turn on Wednesday.
“My flight got canceled from Chicago after a three-hour delay,” he said, “so we had to drive here with a few offensive linemen.”
Little League to NFL
Former Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde spent much of his childhood with dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. Those dreams had to change after he gained a load of weight during his freshman year of high school.
“My freshman year I was playing linebacker, I got hurt and when I came back I had gained like 60 pounds,” he said at Thursday’s combine. “Talk about the ‘Freshman 15’ in college; no, I just put it all on in high school — and all at once.
“I could still hit a baseball, but there were better first basemen out there, faster guys. I started playing football and over the next three or four years I just fell in love with it.”
Vandervelde played in the 2000 Little League World Series, hitting a home run and collecting a few other base hits. He played first base and pitched in relief.
“I was the slugger on the team,” he joked.
Vandervelde played offensive guard at Iowa, but said he’s willing to switch to center in the NFL if a team has a need at that position.
After a productive career at Iowa, punter Ryan Donahue is eager to show his skills in Indianapolis. He averaged 44.6 yards per kick last season and 41.9 yards for his career.
“Teams aren’t looking for a guy who hits five out of 10 awesome punts; they’re looking for 10 out of 10 good punts,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to try to do here, just being consistent, show teams I’m reliable.”
Donahue is the top-ranked punter entering the combine by Pro Football Weekly. He’s projected to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round.
“That’s not in my hands,” he said of his draft status. “All I can do is show teams what I have, what I’m capable of doing and what I can offer them. It’s in their hands from there.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football