All-Decade Team: The best players of the Division I Iowa programs in the 2010's

It has been a very scintillating decade of college football across the state of Iowa. As the decade comes to a close, Iowa, Iowa State and UNI have all seen strong finishes to the 2010’s with winning records and all three programs reaching the postseason.

Iowa has seen another consistent decade in the 2010’s with a record of 80-49, a percentage of 62% that’s included nine bowl appearances and a Big Ten West division title in 2015.

Iowa State put together a 51-73 mark in the decade, a slight dip from their very successful 2000’s, mostly under former head coach Dan McCarney. Cyclones have five bowl appearances in the decade, with one bowl win in the 2017 Liberty Bowl.

UNI saw a slight dip in their record throughout the 2010’s, following an enormously successful 2000’s. The Panthers held a mark of 77-51, a winning percentage of 60.1% that included two Missouri Valley Championships and seven Division I FCS Playoff appearances as well.

There’s also been a ton of great talent that has come through these programs in the last ten years as well. All-Americans, first-round draft picks, and even diamonds in the rough. I have compiled the all-decade team for Iowa’s three, Division I scholarship football programs.

Quarterback

Nate Stanley, Iowa (2016-2019)

No quarterback from the three Iowa programs threw for more yards, touchdowns and completed more passes in the decade than the Hawkeyes senior signal caller. Stanley has thrown for 8,084 yards, 66 touchdowns to just 23 interceptions. Stanley has also completed 655 passes on 1,128 attempts.

Stanley’s signature games include his performance against Ohio State as a sophomore in 2017, shredding the #3 Buckeyes for 226 yards and five touchdowns in Iowa’s historic 55-24 upset. Another signature win included leading Iowa to a home win against #8 and undefeated Minnesota, only throwing for 173 yards, but throwing for two touchdowns in Iowa’s 23-19 win.

There have been some very prolific passing days for Stanley as well, as he’s thrown for five touchdowns in a game twice, once against Iowa State and the other the aforementioned Ohio State game, both in 2017. He also threw for six touchdowns in a 42-16 win against Indiana in 2018 and has five 300-yard passing games in his career.

Honorable Mention: Brock Purdy, Iowa State (2018-19), CJ Beathard, Iowa (2013-2016)

Running Backs

David Johnson, UNI (2010-2014)

The Clinton native exploded onto the national scene with the Arizona Cardinals in his rookie season in the NFL, but fans in Iowa had known him much longer than that. Johnson was the leading rusher for all Iowa backs in the decade, amassing 4,742 rushing yards, 49 touchdowns and averaged just under 100 yards per game rushing in his career.

Johnson was also a dynamic pass catcher out of the backfield, hauling in 141 career receptions for 1,734 yards and 14 touchdowns. Altogether, he accounted for 6,476 yards of total offense and 63 touchdowns in his career as a Panther, not bad for a kid that wasn’t recruited out of high school by Iowa or Iowa State.

David Montgomery, Iowa State (2016-2018)

The phrase “a bull in china shop” comes to mind when you describe the playing style of former Iowa State running back and current Chicago Bears rookie David Montgomery. Montgomery was two-time All-Big 12 selection in his time as a Cyclone, rushing for 2,926 yards and 26 touchdowns.

He became known for his punishing running style and Pro Football Focus currently has Montgomery at #1 on their statistic for “Forced Missed Tackles” with 185 from 2017 to 2018. Also an excellent receiver, Montgomery caught 71 passes in the cardinal and gold for 582 yards.

Honorable Mention: Akrum Wadley, Iowa (2014-17), Mark Weisman, Iowa (2012-14), Mike Warren, Iowa State (2015-2018)

Wide Receiver

Allen Lazard, Iowa State (2014-17)

It was seen as a home run when Iowa State landed Urbandale native and four-star recruit Allen Lazard in the winter of 2014 over other suitors such as Iowa, Nebraska and Notre Dame. Lazard would not disappoint his career as a Cyclone, catching 241 passes for 3,360 yards and 26 touchdowns, smashing numerous Iowa State receiving records in his time in Ames. Lazard currently plays for the Green Bay Packers.

Hakeem Butler, Iowa State (2015-2018)

Butler, unlike his counterpart Lazard, was lightly recruited out of high school, but hit it big when he arrived in Ames. He exploded onto the scene in 2017 and never looked back, amassing 110 receptions for 2,149 yards and 18 career touchdowns in his three seasons. Butler was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.

Marvin McNutt, Iowa (2007-2011)

While I acknowledge that McNutt started his career before the 2010’s, the St. Louis native did the most damage in his Iowa career in the present decade. In 2010 and 2011, McNutt hauled in 135 passes for 2,176 yards and 20 touchdowns and left Iowa as the schools all-time leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. McNutt was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012.

Honorable Mentions: Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State (2012-2015), Kevonte Martin-Manley (2010-2014), Daurice Fountain, UNI (2014-2017)

Tight Ends

TJ Hockenson, Iowa (2016-2018)

The recipient of 2018 Mackey Award was a force to be reckoned with as part of a two-headed monster at tight end along with teammate Noah Fant. The Chariton native quickly became a factor in 2017 as a redshirt freshman and continued his upward trend from there.

In his two seasons, Hockenson caught 73 passes for 1,080 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 14.8 yards per catch in his Iowa career. Hockenson was also a tenacious blocker in the running game, producing numerous highlights of him flattening defenders.

Noah Fant, Iowa (2016-2018)

Playing opposite of Hockenson, Noah Fant was an anomaly at the tight end position. Built at 6’4, 249 lbs with a 40-yard dash time of 4.50 in the NFL Draft, Fant regularly promoted issues for every defensive coordinator Iowa faced in his career in the black and gold.

In three seasons, Fant caught 78 passes for 1,082 yards and 19 touchdowns. He tied the NCAA record for most receiving touchdowns in a season by a tight end with 11 in 2017. Fant also holds the record for most touchdowns in a season by an Iowa tight end as well. He and teammate TJ Hockenson were both drafted in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Honorable Mention: George Kittle, Iowa (2013-2016), EJ Bibbs, Iowa State (2011-2014), CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa (2010-2013)

Offensive Line

Brandon Scherff, Iowa (2011-2014)

The 2014 Outland Trophy winner was one of the most dominant offensive lineman the Iowa program has ever seen, perhaps one of the most dominant in college football this decade. Scherff was Unanimous 1st-team All-American in 2014 and was the fifth overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.

Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State (2007-2011)

Osemele was a diamond in the rough that emerged as a star offensive lineman under Paul Rhoads. He was named a 1st-team All-American selection in 2011 as well as a 1st-team All-Big 12 selection and started 43 consecutive games for the Cyclones. Drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2012 NFL Draft.

James Daniels, Iowa (2015-2017)

One of the most athletic and versatile offensive lineman of the Kirk Ferentz era, James Daniels was fantastic center for the Hawkeyes. He played in 37 games in the black and gold and was a 3rd-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016 and honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2017. Drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Sean Welsh, Iowa (2013-2017)

One of the more underappreciated lineman of the Ferentz era, Sean Welsh was a two-time All-Big Ten selection in his time at Iowa. First-team guard in 2017 and second-team guard in 2016, as well as a Freshman All-Big Ten selection in 2014 at his guard position as well. Welsh started in 52 games in his Iowa career.

Riley Reiff, Iowa (2008-2011)

Rieff replaced great Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and became a great tackle himself in his career as a Hawkeye. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection, 2nd-team in 2010 and 1st-team in 2011, and was an All-American selection in the 2011 season as well. Reiff currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

Honorable Mention: Austin Blythe, Iowa (20122015), Cal Twait, UNI (2015-2018), Julian Good-Jones, Iowa State, (2015-2019), Keegan Render, Iowa (2014-2018), Andrew Donnal, Iowa (2010-2014)

Defensive Line

AJ Epenesa, Iowa (2017-pres.)

Even with his career still ongoing and the possibility of him staying on for 2020, not many have done more in three years than AJ Epenesa has done at Iowa. Epenesa has amassed 97 tackles in his career, 34.5 TFL and 24 sacks. He was also named 1st-team All-Big Ten in 2018 and 2019 and was a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2017.

JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State (2016-pres.)

Bailey’s career isn’t finished, as he received a redshirt due to a season-ending injury in 2019, but he’s been very prolific defensive lineman for Matt Campbell. He has amassed 112 tackles, 31 TFL and 18 sacks in his career in Ames and will add on to that total next season. Bailey was named 2nd-team All-Big 12 in 2018.

Karter Schult, UNI (2012-2016)

Perhaps unknown to many on the list, but Karter Schult had one of the most productive careers in the history of UNI football. In his five seasons in Cedar Falls, the Tripoli native accumulated 191 tackles, 56 TFL and 35.5 sacks. Schult holds the school record in TFL’s, quarterback hurries, TFL yardage and sack yardage. He was also a two-time 1st-team All-MVFC and a two-time FCS All-American.

Parker Hesse, Iowa (2015-2018)

Not the flashiest, not the biggest, but Parker Hesse was the rock of the Iowa defensive line for most of his Hawkeye career. The Waukon native played in 52 games in his career and made 181 tackles, 30.5 TFL and 13.5 sacks in his time in Iowa City. Hesse was a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention selection as well.

Honorable Mention: Mike Daniels, Iowa (2008-2011), Cory Morrissey, Iowa State (2012-2014), Anthony Nelson, Iowa (2015-2018), Jaleel Johnson, Iowa (2012-2016)

Linebacker

AJ Klein, Iowa State (2009-2012)

One of the best linebacker statistically in Iowa State history, Klein was a mainstay of Paul Rhoads early defenses in Ames. Klein finished his career with 361 tackles, 20 TFL and five interceptions, four of which were returned for touchdowns. He was also a two-time 1st-team All-Big 12 selection and the 2011 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Klein currently plays for the New Orleans Saints.

Josey Jewell, Iowa (2013-2017)

The player with the coolest nickname on this list, “The Outlaw” brought opposing ballcarriers to justice in his four seasons in Iowa City. Jewell amassed 433 tackles, 28 TFL, 10 sacks and six interceptions in his Iowa career. He was also a three-time All-Big Ten selection, a unanimous 1st-team All-American selection in 2017, the 2017 Jack Lambert Award winner and the 2017 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

Jewell currently plays for the Denver Broncos

Jared Farley, UNI (2014-2017)

One of the most decorated defensive players to ever set foot in the UNI Dome, the son of head coach Mark Farley was a force at linebacker. Farley finished his career with 313 tackles, 19 TFL and four career interception. He was a two-time 1st-team All-MVFC selection and an All-American selection in 2017.

Honorable Mention: Christian Kirksey, Iowa (2010-2013), Jake Knott, Iowa State (2009-2012), James Morris, Iowa (2010-2013)

Defensive Back

Desmond King, Iowa (2013-2016)

One of the best defensive backs to ever set foot at Iowa, Desmond King was a superstar from day one. King amassed 263 tackles in his Iowa career, along with 9.5 TFL, 14 interceptions, with three returned for touchdowns. King is tied for the Iowa school-record with eight interceptions in 2015, along with Lou King, Josh Jackson and Nile Kinnick.

He was a two-time 1st-team All-Big Ten selection, a two-time All-American, including a unanimous selection in 2015. King also won the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award, 2015 Jack Tatum Award and was the 2015 Woodson-Tatum Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year winner. King currently plays for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa State (2014-2017)

From the first time he stepped on the field, Kamari Cotton-Moya made his impact felt immediately for the Iowa State defense. Cotton-Moya accumulated 236 tackles, 9.5 TFL, five interceptions and two interception returns for touchdowns. He was a two-time All-Big 12 selection, 2nd-team in 2016 and was a consensus 1st-team selection in 2017.

Micah Hyde, Iowa (2009-2012)

The most successful years of Hyde’s Iowa career came after the turn of the decade as he amassed 232 tackles, 5.5 TFL, eight interceptions and two interceptions returned for touchdowns, including this legendary return against Michigan State in 2010.

Hyde was a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention selection in 2010 and 2011, he was an All-Big Ten 1st-team selection in 2012 and won the 2012 Woodson-Tatum Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. Hyde currently plays for the Buffalo Bills.

Josh Jackson, Iowa (2014-2017)

After the departure of Desmond King, Jackson filled in at the lockdown corner spot and did not drop in production. In his career Jackson only made 66 tackles, but broke up 24 passes and made eight interceptions, all in 2017. In 2017, Jackson was a unanimous 1st-team All-American and All-Big Ten and was the winner of the 2017 Jack Tatum Award and the 2017 Woodson-Tatum Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year Award.

Jackson is currently playing for the Green Bay Packers.

Honorable Mention: Brian Peavy, Iowa State (2015-2018), Amani Hooker, Iowa (2016-2018), Deiondre’ Hall, UNI (2012-2015), Jeremy Reeves, Iowa State (2009-2012)

Kicker

Mike Meyer, Iowa (2010-2013)

Meyer left Iowa in second place in school history in points with 324 and field goals made with 61. In his four years, he went 141-143 on PAT’s, including a school-record 122 consecutive made PAT’s. Meyer was a second-team All-Big Ten selection after the 2013 season.

Honorable Mention: Cole Netten, Iowa State (2013-2016)

Punter

Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State (2010-2013)

Van Der Kamp became well known for his ability to carry out fake punts, but he was pretty good at punting the ball as well. Van Der Kamp holds a career average of 42.4 yards per punt and was consistently towards the top of the country in yards per punt. Van Der Kamp was a two-time honorable mention All-Big 12 and a two-time second team All-Big 12 selection.

Honorable Mention: Colin Downing, Iowa State (2014-2017)

Returner

Desmond King, Iowa (2013-2016)

King wasn’t the flashiest return man and never had a career kick/punt return for a touchdown, but he was a sound return man in getting plus yardage on almost every punt. His timely punt returns set up Iowa for clutch situations such as Iowa State in 2015 and Michigan in 2016.

Honorable Mention: Jarvis West, Iowa State (2011-2014)

There’s been quite a bit of talent across this state throughout the decade of the 2010’s. Here’s to more supremely talented players in the decade to come.

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