Sam LaPorta didn’t pay much attention to the 2022 NFL draft. He made sure to see friend and fellow Hawkeye Tyler Linderbaum get taken in the first round and watched a few other picks on TV. But otherwise, he had too much end-of-semester classwork to watch more than that.
He’ll likely pay closer attention to the draft in 2023. LaPorta is rated as one of the top tight ends in college football this season and analysts say there’s a good chance he’ll hear his name called next year.
“Everyone who plays football has dreams of playing in the NFL and I have to pinch myself when I think about it,” said the Tippie management & entrepreneurship major from Highland, Ill., who was the leading receiver on the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten West Division championship team in 2021. He hopes to follow the likes of T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and George Kittle (BA16) as star Hawkeye tight ends now excelling in the pros.
LaPorta said he came to Iowa because it gave him a chance to play at the highest level and because Tippie was a great business school. Although he’s now focused on making the NFL, he says he’s a practical sort who knows life may have other plans and wants to prepare for those contingencies with a degree (he’s going to walk in the May 2023 commencement ceremony; he said his parents will make sure of that). His favorite class at Tippie has been Individuals, Teams, and Organizations, first because Assistant Professor Daniel Newton is such an energetic, thoughtful, and engaging teacher who makes the coursework fascinating, and second because that material helps him understand football on a deeper level.
“A lot of what we talk is about is culture, motivation, and teamwork in a business, and those topics have a lot of carryover to football,” he said.
Grateful for his opportunities, LaPorta doesn’t take his football or classroom experience for granted. He often works with organizations like Camp Courageous to help children who don’t have the advantages he’s had, and he’s an enthusiastic participant in The Wave during every home game.
“The hair on the back of my neck still stands up every time,” he said.