Early fall camp 2008 is when it all started.
Senior tight end Tony Moeaki went into the shop to have a broken left foot fixed. The fix didn’t take and neither did Moeaki’s 2008. He started just one game, the Outback Bowl, and played in just nine, catching 13 passes for 144 yards and a TD.
The left foot explains a lot of Moeaki’s 2008. It certainly explained his absence for spring practice ’09, which had Moeaki on crutches after a winter surgery.
“The foot I broke in August, we found out in the offseason that it was still broken,” said the 6-4, 255-pounder. “We had to do the surgery over again. It feels good. I’ll be back in a few weeks.”
After discovering the injury, the idea was, to take care of it as soon as possible, which is why the decision for surgery was reached so quickly. Moeaki said the foot bothered him the entire season. It led to other injuries and affected his overall play.
“I didn’t really know it wasn’t healed,” he said. “I wasn’t running quite the same. I didn’t really have balance. (Now) I’m not worried about it at all. It’s not a ligament. It’s not a torn ACL. I didn’t break my neck or anything, so I’ll be ready to go.”
Moeaki missed nearly all of the Big Ten season in 2007 after dislocating his elbow and injuring a wrist at Wisconsin. He also missed all of ’08 spring practice after wrist surgery.
The foot injury led to a calf problem that flared up at Pittsburgh. That injury kept Moeaki off the field for four games. When he returned against Illinois, he suffered a concussion and then didn’t return until the victory over Penn State, where he caught one pass but contributed greatly on the blocking side, helping contain DE Aaron Maybin. In Iowa’s final two games, Moeaki caught five passes for 62 yards and a TD.
“It would mean we were a better team,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said when asked about Moeaki and senior OL Dace Richardson being on the field together after the spring scrimmage April 18. “I’m not a huge fan of recruiting rankings, but those guys deserved what they got. They both played well at an early age, from the same high school. We would be a better team. I am not worried about Tony, but I was about Dace. We’ve made huge strides there.”
Moeaki’s career numbers are 46 receptions for 566 yards and seven TDs. He averages 12.3 yards a catch. For some perspective, Dallas Clark averaged 15.81 a catch. Brandon Myers, who was picked in the sixth round (EDIT: Thanks, Erik.) Sunday by the Raiders, finished his career with 11.87 yards on 56 catches. As far as blocking goes, Moeaki would compare favorably and might be a step beyond.
Are the last two games of ’08 the real Tony Moeaki, the 6-4 cruiser whose 39-yard reception in the Outback Bowl helped put South Carolina in the sleeperhold? Or is he what might’ve been and flat out unlucky with health?
Have we seen the real Tony Moeaki yet? Where do you go with expectations?