After the Big Ten Conference’s defense and special teams awards (spoiler: Iowa had a bunch of guys named!) were released on Tuesday evening, the Big Ten announced positional award winners and all-conference teams on Wednesday evening for the offensive side of the ball.
As you can imagine, Iowa was a bit less decorated on this side of the ball, but you can probably make a guess as to who was honored - T.J. Hockenson earned a positional award, while Noah Fant, Alaric Jackson, Ross Reynolds, and Keegan Render were also named to all-Big Ten teams.
First, T.J. Hockenson was named Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year over Noah Fant, who was likely his only real competition in the category in 2018. The award is named in part for the play of Iowa legend Dallas Clark, who you may have heard a thing or two about. Hockenson saw increases across the board from what he put up in 2017, corralling 46 catches for 717 yards and six touchdowns. He also was credited with a four-yard rushing touchdown for his part in one of Iowa’s many trick special teams plays in 2018. To go along with his excellent receiving numbers, Hockenson was also one of the better blockers at the tight end position Iowa fans have seen in a few years - there’s plenty of footage of him mauling opposing defenders in run blocking, setting up huge gains for the Iowa running backs.
To go along with his Kwalick-Clark award, Hockenson was named first-team all-Big Ten by the media and second-team all-Big Ten by the coaches.
Of course, the guy who stole Hockenson’s spot on first-team all-Big Ten team as named by the coaches was his own teammate, Noah Fant. Fant caught 39 passes for 518 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018, only seeing a dip in touchdowns from the previous season, despite going MIA for a few games in the middle of the schedule. While Fant isn’t as decorated a blocker as Hockenson, he was a solid blocker in his own right and an incredibly dangerous weapon when he was on the field, often opening up other receivers for big gains by demanding the attention of all opposing defenders. He was named second-team all-conference by the media, who you may have heard named some Hockenson fellow to the first team.
Here’s a thread of plays by Iowa’s two all-Big Ten tight ends. A must watch, I say!
T.J. Hockenson won the Big Ten Tight End of the year award. Noah Fant was named first-team all-conference. Both will eventually be drafted.— Jordan Hansen (@jordyhansen) November 28, 2018
Here's a thread of the two best tight ends in college football making plays. pic.twitter.com/L4mgy41Mdc
As for the big uglies in the trenches, they received multiple honors for their 2018 performances. Alaric Jackson was named second-team all-Big Ten by the coaches and media, Ross Reynolds was named second-team all-conference by the coaches and third-team by the media, and Keegan Render was named third-team by the media. These guys helped pave the way for 19 Iowa rushing touchdowns, up from 17 in 2017. Despite the Hawks not having a 1,000-yard rusher in 2018, they helped assist Mekhi Sargent (4.9 YPC, 748 yards) and Toren Young (4.7 YPC, 630 yards) to good rushing averages as well.
Tristan Wirfs (coaches and media), Render (coaches), and Ihmir Smith-Marsette (media) were all honorable mention for the 2018 all-conference teams.
Congrats to all for their fantastic performances in 2018!