The University of Iowa was established in 1847 as the State University of Iowa, and the athletics department has been part of the Big Ten Conference since 1899. While the university is well-known for its wrestling prowess (they’ve brought home 23 national championships), it has an impressive football program as well, winning 11 Big Ten championships and seeing plenty of play in bowl games, including a 2010 Orange Bowl victory.
Iowa produced Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick in 1939. Although his time on Earth was short (he died during a WWII training mission just a few years later in 1943), Kinnick lives on in many ways. The stadium the team plays in is named after him, his face appears on the coin used in every Big Ten coin toss, and there is a statue of him outside Kinnick Stadium.
Former Hawkeyes that have made it to the NFL include Dallas Clark (long-time tight end for the Championship Indianapolis Colts) and second overall pick in the 2004 draft, Robert Gallery. Iowa has also produced Pro Football Hall of Famers, including Emlen Tunnell, Paul Krause, and Andre Tippett.
There are 25 current Hawkeyes in the NFL. Let’s check them out.
There are 25 NFL players who played college ball at Iowa. C.J. Beathard, for example, has taken over the reins in San Francisco as he prepares to make his first NFL start. Beathard is the grandson of former general manager Bobby Beathard. Bobby had a lot of success working with two NFL Teams – the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins – earning four Big Game appearances (including two wins). While C.J. is just seeing his career launch, we’ll have to watch to see where this former Hawkeye’s path goes in the NFL.
Let’s not forget Bryan Bulaga, the formidable offensive lineman who blocks for the Green Bay Packers. Bulaga has been a member of the Packers since he was drafted No. 23 overall in 2010 and was part of the squad that won it all his rookie season.
Rise and shine #HawkeyeNation…it's GAMEDAY! LET'S GET IT! #BeatPSU pic.twitter.com/8KVMPjxtiP
— Bryan Bulaga (@BBulaga) September 23, 2017
Micah Hyde is another standout player. This former Hawkeye was also drafted by the Packers, albeit in 2013, and continues to cover receivers for the Buffalo Bills after the team signed him as a free agent in 2017. Now in his fifth season, Hyde has 12 interceptions (so far) and four sacks.
Another former Hawkeye drafted by the Packers is Mike Daniels, who joined the team in 2012. Now in his sixth season, Daniels has racked up 23.5 career sacks and 125 tackles.
Moving to the Big Time
The 2017 season brought a much longed-for change: The university’s beloved Tiger Hawk emblem finally adorns the field at Kinnick Stadium. If you’re heading to the stadium to watch your Hawkeyes take on their rivals, or you’ve been following former players through the NFL, Fanatics has all your gear needs covered, from jerseys to hoodies to hats.