Iowa Hawkeyes TE Sam LaPorta named to the John Mackey Award preseason watch list

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For the third straight year, Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta has been named to the John Mackey Award preseason watch list. The John Mackey Award is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding tight end.

Iowa has a rich history with the award. Dallas Clark captured the John Mackey Award in 2002 and T.J. Hockenson won it in 2018. Meanwhile, Tony Moeaki (2009), Allen Reisner (2010) and Noah Fant (2018) have all been John Mackey Award semifinalists.

After reeling in team-highs in both receptions and receiving yards in 2021, seeing LaPorta back on the Mackey Award preseason watch list felt like a foregone conclusion. The 6-foot-4, 249 pound tight end from Highland, Ill., finished last season with 53 grabs for 670 yards and three touchdowns.

LaPorta had six games in 2021 with five or more receptions and he averaged 12.6 yards per grab. In addition to making the Mackey Award preseason watch list here, LaPorta has enjoyed a parade of preseason recognition.

Phil Steele and Athlon Sports both listed LaPorta as the Big Ten’s preseason first-team tight end, while On3 ranked him as the No. 8 tight end on its Impact 300.

As the Power 5 leader in returning receiving yardage among tight ends, naturally, LaPorta is garnering plenty of 2023 NFL draft buzz, too. ESPN’s Mel Kiper listed LaPorta No. 2 on his most recent big board and he was also included on Pro Football Focus’ draft watch list for tight ends.

LaPorta’s decision to return to Iowa City was one of the biggest of the offseason for the Hawkeyes. Recently, he touched on why returning to Iowa was the right choice.

“Yeah, I mean, I just wanted to make myself happy most of all, and I’m happy to be a part of this team and this program. I’m getting my college paid for, I’m getting my degree. They can never take that away from me once I get that, and I’m earning that every day. Just to be a part of this team and, you know, all my boys. I get to live with four great roommates and go to a great university, great campus, so that’s why I chose to come back,” LaPorta said.

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