With the NFL Playoffs set to kick off Saturday with Wild Card Weekend, you’ll certainly be seeing plenty of former Hawkeyes, Cyclones and even UNI Panthers.
Take a look at some of the Iowa college football talent that will be playing for a Super Bowl beginning this weekend.
L.J. Fort (#58), LB, Northern Iowa
As an undrafted free agent in 2012, the former Panther signed with the Cleveland Browns before jumping around the league. Fort’s stops have included Cleveland, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles before heading to Baltimore.
Fort signed a two-year contract extension with the Ravens earlier this season.
2019 stats (16 games total; 12 with Philadelphia, 4 with Baltimore): 8 starts (all with Baltimore), 37 total tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 pass defensed
Marshal Yanda (#73), G, Iowa
The historic running attack that Baltimore has unleashed would not be possible without right guard Marshal Yanda. The 35-year-old, 13-year veteran is a Cedar Rapids native who attended Anamosa High School.
Yanda has been selected to eight Pro Bowls and was named a First Team All-Pro twice (2014 & 2015). Yanda was named a Second Team All-Pro for the fifth time on Friday.
2019 stats: 15 games started
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Anthony Hitchens (#53), LB, Iowa
The Cowboys drafted Hitchens in the 2014 NFL Draft, but the past two years in Kansas City have been his best.
After average 12 games played per year for his four years in Dallas, Hitchens has played (and started in) 15 games each the past two seasons.
2019 stats: 15 games started, 86 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 pass defensed
Ben Niemann (#56), LB, Iowa
Another undrafted free agent that has found his way into crucial playing time for a Super Bowl contender, Niemann has played 36.2 percent of defensive snaps this year for KC.
2019 stats: 1 game started, 54 total tackles, 1 pass defensed
Xavier Williams (#98), DT, Northern Iowa
Williams only had one NFL sack to his name during his three-year run with the Arizona Cardinals.
He’s more than surpassed that with the Chiefs, with 2.5 sacks in 2018.
An ankle injury kept Williams sideline from October to December, but he has been activated for the Chiefs’ postseason run.
2019 stats: 5 games played, 8 total tackles, 1 forced fumble
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
James Ferentz (#66), OL, Iowa
You’ve probably heard of James’ dad. He coaches a football team that resides in Iowa City.
Ferentz has started two games this season due to injuries along the Patriots’ offensive line. With that part of the New England roster at close-to-full strength heading into Saturday night’s Wild Card matchup with the Teneessee Titans, Ferentz may have to wait patiently for his next opportunity.
2019 stats: 2 games started
Micah Hyde (#23), S, Iowa
A fifth-round pick of Green Bay in 2013, Hyde signed a five-year contract with Buffalo in 2017. The versatile defensive back played cornerback, safety and even returned kicks in both college and the pros.
2019 stats: 16 games started, 65 total tackles, 2 passes defensed, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Ike Boettger (#65), G, Iowa
Saw game action in Week 4 (vs. New England) and Week 17 (vs. New York Jets).
2019 stats: 2 games played
Nick Easley (#86), WR, Iowa (practice squad)
Amani Hooker (#37), DB, Iowa
In a 2019 draft that saw Iowa tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson selected in the first round, Hooker was still seen as a good value pick, as the Titans traded up to select him in the third round.
2019 stats: 16 games played, 19 total tackles
Parker Hesse (#49), TE, Iowa (practice squad)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
George Kittle (#85), TE, Iowa
Named a First Team All-Pro on Friday (after being a Second Team All-Pro in 2018), Kittle has had no shortage of dominant plays.
Kittle has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards each of the past two seasons, and is well-known for his skills as a blocker. He was promoted to a team captain after just his second season.
2019 stats: 14 games started, 85 receptions, 1,053 yards, 5 touchdowns
C.J. Beathard (#3), QB, Iowa
Beathard has seen his share of snaps the last couple years, starting 10 games at quarterback and playing in 13 total throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons
After Jimmy Garoppolo recovered from a 2018 season-ending torn ACL, Bethard has spent all of 2019 serving as a QB2.
Ross Reynolds (#76), OL, Iowa (practice squad)
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Bryan Bulaga (#75), OT, Iowa
A 10-year NFL veteran, Bulaga has dealt with his share of injuries, from a high-ankle sprain in 2015 to two torn ACLs.
But 2019 was injury-free, as Bulaga started all 16 games for just the third time in his career and helped vault the Packers offense to a 13-3 season with his run-blocking and pass protection.
2019 stats: 16 games started
Josh Jackson (#37), CB, Iowa
A second-round pick in the 2018 draft, Jackson started 10 games last year and was one of only four rookie corners to play in all 16 games.
His playing time has dipped dramatically in his second season, however, seeing the field on less than 10 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
2019 stats: 14 games played, 11 total tackles
Allen Lazard (#13), WR, Iowa State
After totaling just one catch for seven yards as an undrafted rookie a season ago, Lazard broke out in his sophomore campaign. He played in all 16 games and tallied almost 500 receiving yards on the year, including a career-high 103 yards against the Giants in Week 13.
2019 stats: 16 games played, 3 starts, 35 receptions, 477 yards, 3 touchdowns
Cyclones and Hawkeyes together on the same side. Who would’ve thought such a thing was possible?
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
A.J. Klein (#53), LB, Iowa State
A fifth-round pick in 2013, Klein has really come into his own since joining the Saints. The last three seasons, Klein has started at least 12 games and has been a major contributor on both defense and special teams.
2019 stats: 15 games started, 65 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 fumble forced, one interception
Klein signed with the Saints in 2017, but the former Cyclone played four seasons with the Carolina Panthers before that, including their Super Bowl run in 2016. You could say he likes playing against his former team…
Keegan Render (#64), C, Iowa (practice squad)
Jaleel Johnson (#94), DT, Iowa
A fourth-round pick in 2017, Johnson has worked his way up the depth chart over his three seasons in Minnesota.
Playing in only five games his rookie season, his usage jumped the next two years as he saw action in every game of the regular season this year.
2019 stats: 16 games played, 3 starts, 29 total tackles, 3.5 sacks
Riley Reiff (#71), OT, Iowa
Reiff started his career with the Detroit Lions, playing there from 2012-2016 before signing with the Minnesota Vikings.
Over his eight-year career, Reiff has started 112 of a possible 120 regular season games.
2019 stats: 15 games started
- San Francisco 49ers (13-3) (bye)
- Green Bay Packers (13-3) (bye)
- New Orleans Saints (13-3) vs. (6) Minnesota Vikings (10-6) (Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT on FOX)
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) vs. (5) Seattle Seahawks (11-5) (Sunday at 3:40 p.m. CT on NBC)
- Baltimore Ravens (14-2) (bye)
- Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) (bye)
- New England Patriots (12-4) vs. (6) Tennessee Titans (9-7) (Saturday at 7:15 p.m. CT on CBS)
- Houston Texans (10-6) vs. (5) Buffalo Bills (10-6) (Saturday at 3:35 p.m. CT on ABC/ESPN)