Posted by: marcmwm | April 27, 2009

My left foot — Moeaki conversation

Iowa Hawkeyes Tony Moeaki tries to work his way around South Carolina Gamecock Chris Culliver during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa Hawkeyes Tony Moeaki tries to work his way around South Carolina Gamecock Chris Culliver during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

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?

Injured tight end Tony Moeaki works out on the sideline during Iowa's spring practice Saturday, April 18, 2009 in Iowa City, Iowa. Saturday's practice was the last of spring football. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Injured tight end Tony Moeaki works out on the sideline during Iowa's spring practice Saturday, April 18, 2009 in Iowa City, Iowa. Saturday's practice was the last of spring football. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

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Responses

  1. I met Tony for the first time in Tampa at the Beach Bash and at Busch Gardens. He seemed like a great kid! I am pulling hard for both him and Dace to have a great finish to their collegiate career. Hopefully onto the NFL!

  2. Couldn’t agree more, Cali.

    Just unlucky. Not for lack of effort or talent. They care and they want to be on the field. Just unlucky with health.

  3. When he’s healthy, he looks like a first round quality tight end and might be the most naturally talented Iowa player than I can remember. That sounds sorta hyperbolic, but I honestly believe it. I just hope he holds up for his last season, I feel really bad for the guy.

  4. Better blocker than Dallas, but maybe not as fast or athletic. What more do you want out of a TE?

    I agree, Adam. Still, given the history, I’d make sure Reisner and Herman are ready for No. 1 roles.

  5. did he get a medical redshirt? if so, we have him this year and next, right? i know he is a senior, but he missed most of the last two seasons so my hope is the NCAA will allow him another year at Iowa.

    that is, assuming he needs it. he is a stud! i have been impressed with him since day one and have been bummed that he hasnt been able to play more. if he stays healthy this year, he will DOMINATE. if Myers can go pro, i am pretty sure Moeaki, can.

  6. I agree with Adam. If Moeaki can stay healthy he should continue the tradition of Iowa TEs being drafted…I’m not sure about 1st round though.

  7. Bret, Moeaki didn’t redshirt, so he only has one more season left. Dace Richardson might have two more seasons, but he’d need to apply for the medical hardship waiver.

    I’m with you, FFIowa. One game at a time.

  8. Meyers was picked in the 6th round. anyways moeaki is probably the best blocker out of clark meyers and himself but and probably in the middle for receiving but his injuries really bring him down. its too bad hes a great guy

  9. Erik, you’re right. Myers was a sixth round pick. The Raiders traded their seventh to get him. That’s my screw up.

  10. I’d imagine this is the curtain call for both Dace and Tony. I’m hoping that the hyped 2005 class wants to kick the door down and deliver on the expectations. What’s left of them, there’s still a lot of talent and most are projected in the 2 deeps. Too bad injuries played a huge role in stunting their development; Moeaki, Dace, Doering, and Stross in particular.

  11. Dace might have another. I’ll find out. It might take two for him to get back to what he was, or close to what he was.


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