The NFL announced their Pro Bowl selections on National Signing Day and sure enough, the Iowa Hawkeyes had two of the four tight end selections for the prestigious honor. With each passing year, it gets harder and harder to argue for any school other than Iowa as tight end university. The Hawkeyes will have another in a long line of NFL draft picks at the position when Sam LaPorta departs this offseason.
That’s a tradition Zach Ortwerth was sold on and is looking to help continue over the next several years in Iowa City. Wednesday, the St. Louis native made it official as he signed his national letter of intent to play football at the University of Iowa.
Ortwerth is a St. Louis University High product with a ready-made frame to step into a Big Ten game right away. As a senior, he was listed at 6’5” and 220 pounds, meaning he will likely walk onto campus next call in the 225-230 pound range.
On film, Ortwerth shows a decent amount of run blocking, which is crucial in Iowa’s offense for the in-line tight end, where he projects. But that doesn’t come without any abilities in the passing game. SLU used Ortwerth in a role likely to resemble what Iowa will do, running routes to the sticks, underneath and over the middle. He has sure hands and solid athleticism for his size.
As a senior, Ortwerth battled injuries all season, but ultimately finished with 194 yards and 2 TDs on 11 catches. This comes after hauling in 20 catches for 299 yards and 5 TDs as a junior.
Ortwerth is the only tight end Iowa is expected to sign in the early signing period. It’s worth pointing out the Hawkeyes have been targeting bigger WR prospects in this class, including a few who have either gone elsewhere or are still undecided that likely project more as hybrid TE/WR types who could fill a TE role split out wide.
Iowa loses the aforementioned Sam LaPorta this year, but has already added Michigan transfer Erick All via the portal to go along with last year’s transfer Steven Stilianos as seniors for 2023. The Hawkeyes also return Luke Lachey from this year’s squad with two years of eligibility remaining - though if he continues on his current trajectory he may be headed to the NFL before 2024.
That depth likely means a redshirt year is in store for Ortwerth, but an opportunity will be waiting in 2024 and beyond if he can add some bulk and continue to develope.
Welcome aboard, officially, Zach Ortwerth!