Continuing with BHGP’s countdown to the kickoff of Iowa football’s 2022 season, we highlight a defensive lineman who emerged as a reliable contributor last season and will look to have a breakout year during his senior campaign.
John Waggoner – RS Senior
Des Moines, IA (Dowling Catholic)
6’5”, 266 lbs
2022 Projection: starting defensive end
Waggoner is a player who was on the radar of Hawkeye fans long before suiting up for the black and gold. A prep star from central Iowa, Waggoner was a three-time state champion who was a first team All-State and Elite Eight all-star selection his senior year. Waggoner racked up an impressive list of recruiting offers, including Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, Penn State, and Oregon. However, he ultimately decided to stay home, committing to Iowa in the winter of 2017.
Waggoner arrived in Iowa City with a fair amount of hype based on the strength of his high school pedigree and his status as a highly coveted local recruit. However, it took Waggoner a few years to see meaningful game action after redshirting in 2018 and being stuck behind players like A.J. Epenesa, Chauncey Golston, and Zack VanValeknburg in 2019-2020. After playing sparingly as a freshman and sophomore, Waggoner managed to break into the starting lineup in 2021. Waggoner started the season strong, racking up 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and three pass deflections in his first four games. However, his statistical production tailed off as the season progressed; while Waggoner finished the year with 25 tackles, he failed to record a TFL, sack, or deflection for the remainder of his junior campaign. However, Waggoner provided consistent pressure throughout the year and played an important role in setting the edge in Iowa’s stout run defense.
Waggoner will be looked to for greater and more consistent production in the wake of VanValkenburg’s graduation and will be called upon to provide veteran leadership to a defensive line that exceeded many fan expectations last year. Waggoner should have every opportunity to retain his starting job, but could face pressure from young players like Lukas Van Ness and Deontae Craig, as well as from fellow senior Joe Evans if he can manage emerge as an every down player in 2022. However, Waggoner’s place in Iowa’s defensive line rotation seems secure, and the 2021 Coaches Appreciation Award winner and two-time Dean’s List honoree appears poised for a strong senior campaign.