By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Noah Fant believes he is ready to play football at the highest level, and he isn’t alone in that belief.
The Omaha, Neb., native announced his decision to enter the 2019 NFL Draft on Instagram on Friday, and Fant's decision to skip his senior season at Iowa makes sense under the circumstances.
Fant is considered one, if not the top tight end available for the draft after playing three seasons at Iowa, where he combined for 18 touchdown receptions as a sophomore and junior.
Fant released a long statement on Friday in which he thanked Hawkeye nation, the Iowa coaches and his support staff.
“I know with all my heart that the University of Iowa was the program meant for me,” Fant said.
The timing of Fant's decision means that he will not play in Iowa's bowl game, which will be announced on Sunday.
Fant used his speed and quickness to become a big-play specialist for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz even described him as a specialist when trying to explain why Fant played a limited number of snaps in the second half of a loss against Northwestern this season.
Fant’s snap count became a huge story during the regular season, especially after his older brother expressed his frustration with Noah’s playing time on Twitter.
Noah Fant defended his brother, saying he has a right to his opinion, but Noah never complained publicly about his role in the offense.
And he still played enough snaps to make first-team All-Big Ten after finishing the regular season with 39 catches for 519 yards and seven touchdowns.
Fant also set the Iowa single-season record for touchdown catches by a tight end with 11 last season.
Fant's decision to leave Iowa at this time seems like a no-brainer, considering where he ranks in the draft at his position.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., has the 6-foot-5, 241-pound Fant ranked as the top tight end available for the draft in his latest position rankings.
Fant and sophomore tight end T.J. Hockenson formed a dynamic duo at Iowa, and they both made first-team All-Big Ten this season, marking the first time that two tight ends from the same team made the first team.
Hockenson is also one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate tight end. He led Iowa with 46 catches for 717 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season.
Hockenson recently told the media that he plans to explore his status for the 2019 draft after the season. The Chariton native still has two seasons of eligibility after being redshirted as a true freshman in 2016, while Fant only has one season of eligibility remaining because he played as a true freshman in 2016.
Thank you Hawkeye Nation!!!! It truly has been my pleasure!!!! #GoHawks pic.twitter.com/Ee1y1uuMZN— Noah Fant (@nrfant) November 30, 2018
Thank you Hawkeye Nation!!!! It truly has been my pleasure!!!! #GoHawks pic.twitter.com/Ee1y1uuMZN