Aug. 5, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — For the second time in his career, University of Iowa senior Tony Moeaki has found his name on the John Mackey Award watch list, highlighting the finest tight ends in the nation. After back-to-back injury-plagued seasons, Moeaki would rather have his name on a clean bill of health.
“The last two seasons have been bad luck,” Moeaki said. “This year I’m working hard in the offseason and it should be a healthy year.”
In 2007, Moeaki broke his wrist and dislocated an elbow in the fourth week at Wisconsin and missed the final eight games. Last season he did not play against Maine, Florida International, Indiana or Purdue because of a broken foot and leg injuries, but returned to catch five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown during the final two outings against Minnesota and South Carolina.
“I’m working hard right now. I think everyone is,” Moeaki said. “I’m always anxious to get on the field. This is an exciting time of the year — getting ready to play in Kinnick Stadium and getting ready for the season is always a fun time.”
The Hawkeyes open preseason camp Friday, Aug. 7, and they will have 29 days before kicking off the season at home against Northern Iowa on Sept. 5. For Moeaki, who graduated in 2005 from Warrenville South High School in Wheaton, Ill., his days in Iowa City have passed quickly.
The University of Iowa football team begins preseason practice and will hold its annual Media Day on Friday, Aug. 7.
“It’s exciting that this is my final season,” he said. “It’s gone by pretty fast and playing all four years made it go by even quicker. I’ll try to make this one a memorable year.”
In 38 career outings, Moeaki has caught 46 passes for 566 yards (12.3 yards per catch) with seven touchdowns. His long of 52 yards was one of three touchdown grabs he hauled in during a 35-0 win against Syracuse on Sept. 8, 2007.
More than 15 percent of Moeaki’s collegiate receptions have resulted in touchdowns.
“Every year I’m going to try to be the best tight end in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country, so obviously staying healthy will help that,” Moeaki said. “Now it’s a matter of getting to camp and working hard in camp to get better and have a good season. It’s been a good summer.”
Moeaki was a high school teammate of Hawkeye offensive guard Dace Richardson, who is also working his way back from injuries that consumed a portion or all of the 2006-08 seasons. Richardson, by the way, broke spring camp listed as the starting left guard.
At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Moeaki is a nice-sized target for any quarterback. He has been on the receiving end of aerials thrown by Drew Tate, Jason Manson, Jake Christensen and incumbent starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
As a sophomore in 2008, Stanzi completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 1,956 yards and 14 touchdowns. Wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos returns as the leading UI receiver with 44 catches for 639 yards.
“Rick throws a nice ball,” Moeaki said. “He has good zip on the ball, but not too much. It should be a fun year with Rick. All the receivers have been doing a lot of extra work here on the practice fields on our own, so we’re doing our part for the offense in terms of preparing for camp and the season.”