Omaha South graduate Noah Fant has played his last game as an Iowa Hawkeye.
The junior tight end told The World-Herald he is declaring for the NFL draft and will immediately begin preparing for the NFL combine and bypass the Hawkeyes’ bowl game, which will be announced Sunday.
Fant submitted his name for evaluation in the 2019 draft Wednesday. The positive feedback helped him make the decision.
Some early mock drafts have Fant going as a mid- to late-first round pick, or going at the top of the second round. He plans to immediately start the process of interviewing agents and begin preparation for a probable appearance at the combine in Indianapolis Feb. 26 through March 4.
“It has always been my dream to play in the NFL,” The 6-foot-5, 241-pound Fant said. “I talked it over with my family and coaches and that is a decision I am comfortable with.”
Fant caught 78 passes for 1,083 yards and 19 touchdowns in his Hawkeye career. He was a first-team All-Big Ten tight end this season on the strength of 39 receptions for 519 yards and seven touchdowns.
As a sophomore, Fant led the nation in yards per catch (16.5) for tight ends and tied for tops among the position group with 11 touchdown receptions, which also set a Hawkeye record.
“I felt comfortable with my college career coming to a close,” Fant said. “I feel like I had a lot of fun in my career and accomplished a lot of goals I wanted to accomplish.”
He listed wins over Ohio State and homestate school Nebraska among highlights, and said he will have many fond memories of Iowa City and playing for the Hawkeyes.
“All of the supporters of Hawkeye nation were great to me,” he said. “I was able to set some records in my time at Iowa and now just feels like the right time.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz met with Fant on Thursday, and Fant said his coach “was comfortable” with his decision to enter the draft and bypass the bowl.
“He said it was my decision to make and wished me the best,” Fant said. “Coach Ferentz and the entire staff are very supportive and want what is best for me.”
Ferentz said in a press release he is “disappointed” that Fant will not play in the bowl game but wished his tight end well in the future.
“He is a tremendous athlete and we wish him the best as he pursues his goal of playing in the NFL,” Ferentz said.
Fant said he and his family will soon pick an agent. A decision on where he will prepare for the combine will come with the help of the agent.
“I am going to talk it over with my family and once I have an agent, they will recommend somewhere and I will go from there,” Fant said.
Fant said he understands that he will need to improve every aspect of his game to have a successful NFL career.
“I know there is still a lot I can improve on,” he said. “I haven’t made it yet and that is a part of the process I am going into to improve as a tight end and take that next step.”
Iowa has a history of sending tight ends to the NFL, which is one of the reasons Fant selected the Hawkeyes coming out of South. Twelve former Hawkeye tight ends have been selected in the draft since 1985.