By Pat Harty
TAMPA, Fla. – Iowa sophomore tight end T.J. Hockenson drew a crowd during and after Tuesday’s 27-22 victory over Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl.
The Bulldog defense blanketed the John Mackey Award winner and held Hockenson to just three catches for 43 yards, all of which came in the second half.
He then was surrounded by reporters after the game who wanted to know if Hockenson had made his final appearance as a Hawkeye.
The Chariton native said he is 95 percent sure about what he plans to do, but wants to wait a few days before saying whether he will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.
“It’ll come out in the next few days,” Hockenson said. “I’m going to go hang out with my parents in Orlando and clear my mind a little bit and hang out and visit and I’ll eventually tell you.”
Asked if he already has made a decision, Hockenson said:
“I have an idea. I’m about 95 percent sure what I’m going to do.”
Junior defensive back Amani Hooker and junior defensive end Anthony Nelson also plan to make a decision about the draft in the near future.
“I don’t have a decision,” Hooker said. “I’m just excited we got the win. I’m going to go home and talk with my parents about it.”
Junior tight end Noah Fant already has declared for the draft and didn't play in the Outback Bowl on Tuesday.
Scoring outburst: The 27 points that Iowa scored in Tuesday’s game was the second most points that Mississippi State allowed in a game this season behind the 28 points that Kentucky scored.
Iowa is the fourth team this season to score at least 14 points against Mississippi State. The others were Kentucky, Louisiana State and Alabame.
Iowa also scored a season-high 17 points off turnoves in Tuesday’s game.
Golston steps up: Sophomore defensive end Chauncey Golston played a key role in Tuesday’s victory by recovering his third fumble of the season in the second quarter. All three of his fumble recoveries were forced by fellow defensive end A.J. Epenesa.
Golston also intercepted a pass in the third quarter. It was the Detroit native's first interception of his career and Iowa’s 19th for the season.
“It’s just been steadily climbing and adding new things to my toolbox and getting reps in practice,” Golston said. “And coaches having belief in me that I can get this stuff done.”