IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa tight end Drew Cook isn't sure what he wants to do after he graduates from college, but he wants to make sure that he gives himself every chance to be successful.
That's why Cook attended the Iowa football program's annual networking event on Thursday for the fourth time as a Hawkeye. The event is designed to help current players prepare for life after college by connecting with former Iowa players.
More than 30 former Iowa players, including former All-Big Ten center Mike Elgin, returned to their alma mater to give feedback and advice to the current players.
Elgin's message made a strong impression on Cook, who will be a fifth-year senior this coming season.
"The main message that I'm starting to gather his how I need to leverage my network," said Cook, who plans to get his master's in finance. "Mike Elgin told me that tonight; how we've got an incredible opportunity. We have all these alumni that are super willing to help us, and help me take advantage of that. And I look forward to doing that."
The Iowa football program has built a strong pipeline to the NFL under current head coach Kirk Ferentz, but a majority of the Iowa players still don't make it to the NFL, and that why it is important to prepare for life after football.
Former Iowa defensive lineman Anthony Herron played briefly in the NFL, but was also prepared when his football career ended. Herron now lives in Chicago and is an accomplished sports broadcaster.
He clears his busy schedule in order to attend Iowa's networking event because Herron knows how valuable it is for the current Iowa players to hear from the alumni.
"It's a great way to not only give back to the program and try to impart whatever miniscule level of knowledge and experience that I have to the guys that are here now," Herron said. "And just to get back with old buddies and old teammates. It's like we've never left each other's sides. And it fun to see folks who I kind of bled and sweat with."
ISenior quarterback Nate Stanley will leave Iowa as a three-year starter after next season and he is ranked among the top quarterbacks for the 2020 NFL Draft.
But Stanley also knows that football will only last for so long and he has to be ready for when that days comes.
And for Stanley, part of that preparation is learning all he can from the networking event.
"The biggest thing is when they were in our footsteps all they wanted to do was play football," Stanley said. "When that ended for them, it wasn't the end of their lives or their careers. That's when they really started their professional lives.
"Playing football ends, but it's not extremely hard to get a job after football, especially with the amount of guys that want to help us out and that we can connect with and keep in contact with."