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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes Land Northern Illinois Grad Transfer DT Jack Heflin

The Iowa defense just added one of the top returning defensive linemen in the country.

Northern Illinois v Nebraska
Jack Heflin comes to Iowa City with experience stopping Big Ten offenses.
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

If we have college football in 2020, the Iowa Hawkeyes will have some question marks. Most notably, Iowa will be breaking in a new QB this fall after Nate Stanley was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.

On the defensive side of the ball, however, the Hawkeyes need to shore up the defensive line. It’s unlikely the production lost when A.J. Epenesa was drafted by the Buffalo Bills is replaced, but Iowa will look to do so with some highly regarded backups already on the roster.

In the middle of the defense, however, Iowa needs some help. They’ve got budding star Daviyon Nixon in the fold and youngster Noah Shannon shows plenty of promise, but Kelvin Bell and Phil Parker like to rotate linemen to keep everyone fresh. That means a need for more bodies.

Today, that question was answered as Northern Illinois graduate transfer defensive tackle Jack Heflin announced his intention to transfer to the University of Iowa.

Heflin is just what the doctor ordered in Iowa City. He’s got a big build at 6’4” and 319 pounds, per his NIU bio.

More than just a body, Heflin is a player. As a redshirt junior last season, the Prophetstown, Illinois native was a team captain and the Huskies’ defensive player of the year. He was also named second team All-MAC by the conference’s coaches and was a Pro Football Focus All-America Honorable Mention.

Heflin totaled 31 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in just 11 games last season. In a full season in 2018, he tallied 33 tackles, 8 TFL and 6 sacks. He also took his only trip to Kinnick Stadium as a player - a dream come true for a guy who grew up rooting for Iowa, making several trips as a fan.

Following the 33-7 loss to the Hawkeyes, Heflin had a glowing review for

“Growing up a die-hard Iowa fan, just coming to games, and now to be able to be on the field at Kinnick and play a game at Kinnick … it’s a great feeling, just awesome that my family is up there watching me on this field,” Heflin said after the game, standing in the hallway outside Kinnick’s famous pink-colored visitors locker room after playing on the turf in front of 67,510 screaming fans. “My family’s excited, and it means a lot. It’s just a great experience to be on that field, able to be a part of an Iowa football game.”

“when I committed, it was the first game I circled. It was a great game to be a part of,” Heflin said. “To have my family in Iowa – who still go to a lot of games and travel to Iowa bowl games – rooting for me today, it was pretty special.”

“This will be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Heflin said. “And I’m already looking forward to the one in 2 years, the next time we’re here. So I’m excited, I’ve got this one under my belt, and I’m looking forward to the future.”

Now, Heflin will be on the other side of the field when the Hawkeyes host the Huskies in Kinnick on September 26th (as the schedule currently stands).

He’ll be a major addition to that Iowa defensive line. Per Pro Football Focus, the grad transfer had a 90.1 rating overall with a 89.4 on run defense and 80.9 on pass rush. That was good enough for tops in the MAC last season and #9 in the country for defensive tackles.

Heflin will likely compete for a starting role in the middle of Iowa’s defense in 2020. The Hawkeyes return senior Austin Schulte, junior Daviyon Nixon, sophomore Noah Shannon and a pair of redshirt freshmen in Jake Karchinski and converted tight end Logan Lee. Iowa signed three defensive tackles - Logan Jones, Isaiah Bruce and Michael Lois (whose status remain in question following a neck injury in high school) - in the 2020 recruiting class.

Welcom to Iowa City Jack Heflin!