Iowa Football boasts a storied history when it comes to tight ends. Marv Cook, Dallas Clark and George Kittle are just a few of the famous alumni.
Cael Vanderbush knows the lineage. He arrives on campus June 12 hoping to keep the Hawkeyes' successful tradition at the position going.
"I’m just excited to finally get up to campus and get things started," Vanderbush told HN.
Like Kittle, TJ Hockenson and current Iowa starting tight end Sam LaPorta, Vanderbush (6-5, 205) comes to Iowa City needing to build up his body after playing receiver and tight end in high school. He's working on it.
"Since the season, I have put on about 15 pounds and gotten a lot stronger. With that being said, I don’t think I’m too far off from where I want to be next year and moving forward," Vanderbush said.
The Plainfield (IN) High standout caught 35 passes for 736 yards and eight touchdowns last fall. He recorded 44 receptions for 743 yards and six scores as a junior to go along with 422 yards on kickoff returns. He was named all-state both years.
Iowa returns its top two tight ends from last season in LaPorta and Luke Lachey. It adds Lafayette grad transfer Steve Stilianos to the mix at the position this summer. That could make it challenging for Vanderbush to see playing time this coming fall, but he's not conceding anything.
"My mindset next year is to prepare and give myself the best chance to get on the field as soon as possible," he said. "I also look forward to learning from those older guys like Sam and Luke."
Team goals trump personal achievements for Vanderbush, but he'd like to help the Hawkeyes right away if he can.
"Next year, as a team, I want to win the Big Ten and get into the College Football Playoff. But, personally, my goals are to get on the field as soon as possible, whether it’s tight end or special teams," he said.
When Vanderbush signed with Iowa Football, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz was coaching tight ends. On March 1, the Hawkeyes hired alumnus Abdul Hodge to coach the position.
"After I first heard about the coaching switch, I was a little surprised and wasn’t sure what to expect. After my official visit, where I met coach Hodge and got to see first hand how he coaches, I’m excited to get to play for him. I think he has done and will continue to do a great job," Vanderbush said.
Vanderbush is looking forward to teaming up with fellow members of Iowa's '22 recruiting class.
"I’m the closest with (quarterback) Carson (May), but I don’t know who I’m going to be rooming with yet. I haven’t talked to the other members a ton yet, but from what I’ve heard we want to build off the successful season last year and be even better in the future. As a whole, we're pretty confident we can make that happen," he said.
Like in football, Vanderbush lettered for four years in basketball. He averaged 14.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a senior, according to Max Preps.