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T.J. Hockenson Still Mulling Over NFL Decision

December 17, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – T.J. Hockenson spent the first half of this month thinking about his future. He’s been weighing options – spending another season at Iowa or leaving early for the NFL.

The Iowa sophomore realized that decision was keeping him from enjoying time with his teammates. Whether he stays or goes, preparing for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl would be his last time with this particular team.

The all-American tight end told everybody in his circle he was done dealing with the NFL talk. He wanted all his focus on bowl preparation. He would have two weeks after the bowl to figure our his next move with Jan. 15 being the draft declaration deadline.

“A few days ago, I stopped thinking about it and I’m really just trying to hone in on this next game,” the Chariton native said Monday here at the football performance center.

The Mackey Award winner as the country’s top tight end has made progress towards a decision about his future. He has not made up his mind 100 percent, though.

“I’ll think about it more after the bowl game,” he said.

He’s considering multiple factors.

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“If there was one thing sticking out, that would make my decision easy. But there are so many things that go into it,” he said.

Hockenson paced the Hawkeyes in receptions (46) and receiving yardage (717). He ranked second on the team in touchdown catches (6).

He submitted a request to receive a grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. That has not yet come back.

“It’s nice to have. They’re pretty accurate on that kind of stuff,” Hockenson said.

Impressively, he doesn’t seem stressed by a big life decision being on his plate. That’s because that and receiving honors didn’t motivate him to get to this point.

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“My goal was never to get these awards or have the decision about the NFL at the end of the season. My goals were to come to practice every day, make sure I was a three-down tight end and do everything I could to make sure I’m on the field every play,” he said.

Being true to himself helps relieve stress. He’s sticking to the work ethic that put him in this position.

“You can’t let all this stuff get in the way of who you are and what your principles are,” he said.

He did feel the pressure building up recently, however. That led him into a meeting with offensive coordinator and tight end coach Brian Ferentz. They decided he’d focus on preparing for the Outback Bowl against Mississippi State.

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“Whether I stay or whether I go, it’s one more game with this team. It’s one more game with these guys and that means a lot to me,” Hockenson said.

Hockenson will be talking to as many advisors as he can before his final decision. That group includes the Iowa coaches, his family, feedback from the NFL and other resources.

“You have to be smart. You can’t go off of one person’s (advice). I’ve been trying to talk to a lot of people and see what they have to say about it either way. There’s pros and cons to each. That’s not something where one person can steer me,” he said.

Leaving for the NFL would fulfill a dream. It would bring money, fame and a chance to test himself against the best. He also sees a lot of value in returning, however.

“There’s so much to do. There’s so much to learn from coach Brian. I’ve really only scraped what he has to say; the relationships here. There’s so much,” he said.

Here’s our full interview with Hockenson on Monday:

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