Welcome back to our countdown to the Iowa Hawkeyes football season. We’re back with a walk-on out of western Iowa. The walk-on will look to follow in the path of past tight ends who came from relative obscurity to become contributors. But it’s Iowa, so no one’s path to playing time at TE is too obscure.
Kyson Van Vugt, RS Fr.
6-6, 247 lbs.
Sioux Center, Iowa (Western Christian)
2023 projection: reserve tight end
Kyson Van Vugt joined the Hawks as a walk-on athlete. 247 simultaneously has him as defensive end & offensive line but he’s noted on the Hawkeyes roster as a tight end. The recruiting service noted he selected Iowa’s walk-on offer after flipping from South Dakota. He had additional scholarship opportunities from Eastern Michigan, North Dakota State, & Northern Iowa.
In his final two years at Western Christian, he played primarily on defense (38 tackles, six sacks) before adding offense to his repertoire. His senior season saw him catch 30 passes for 409 yards.
While he doesn’t appear elite, speed-wise, he does outrun many overmatched defenders. He also has that rumbling, bumbling, stumbling, athleticism of old from burlier tight ends. Thinking someone like the pictured Henry Krieger-Coble.
What puts him in a similar vein as sophomore Addison Ostrenga is simply his size-readiness. He came in around 220 pounds and has put on a fair amount of weight to get him in line with the expected measurables of many past Hawkeyes around 250 pounds. With three guys who could leave Iowa City (Erick All, Luke Lachey, & Steve Stillianos) after this season, there will be ample opportunity for second & third tight ends to emerge among Iowa’s current contingent.
Hawkeye brass has never been shy about playing walk-ons at the position so Van Vugt is someone I’ll keep my eye on for 2024 & beyond.