The Detroit Lions’ newest tight end Sam LaPorta sometimes ducked his head inside the University of Iowa quarterback room to remind them of his 67 percent high school win percentage.
He was told to shut up and leave as gloves, balls and catcalls were thrown his way. It was LaPorta’s way of letting the team know he was available no matter the position or the situation.
It’s that take one for the team mentality that caught Lions GM Brad Holmes’ eye. LaPorta’s desire to help the Hawkeyes at quarterback nearly came to life when he was designated as emergency quarterback during the Music City Bowl in Nashville against Kentucky.
Regular season starter Spencer Petras injured his shoulder Nov. 25 against Nebraska while his backup Alex Padilla entered the transfer portal, leaving Iowa with Joe Labas and Carson May in the quarterback room.
If they got injured during the game LaPorta was the man.
I think emergency is the key word,” LaPorta said the week leading up to the game. “I don’t know if it’s best for the Hawks to put me back there, but I will surely do it to add value to the team if that’s what I’m called to do.”
LaPorta briefly played quarterback in Highland High School in Illinois where he recorded a 2-1 record. He was also brought in for wildcat situations at Iowa.
Playing with an edge
LaPorta also plays with an edge. No Power Five conference wanted him out of high school. That included Iowa who wanted to evaluate him more before offering him a scholarship. LaPorta played wide receiver in high school where he caught 50 passes for 3,793 yards. But Iowa coaches believed he could excel in college at tight end. The problem was the school was set at the position with current NFL players Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson, who played with the Lions. They were backed up by Nate Wieting and Shaun Beyer, who both had at least 30 games of playing experience.
LaPorta was told to sit tight and his recruiting battle boiled down to Bowling Green and Central Michigan. He decided on Bowling Green, but Fant and Hockenson declared for the NFL draft early and Iowa coaches made a last-minute pitch to nab LaPorta.
“He came here to camp and it didn’t quite go the way he had hoped,” Iowa special teams coordinator told reporters. “So, we kept moving on. Hey we’ll keep watching you.”
LaPorta’s name kept showing up as a receiving leader round up in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Iowa became interested again. But LaPorta didn’t feel like making the four-hour drive to Iowa City for a visit. The coaches convinced him and he visited with former Lion Hockenson who helped seal the deal.
The experience left LaPorta a bit upset and he has kept that anger simmering underneath. Now the Lions hope to take advantage.
For more from the author Terry Foster, check him out on Twitter here: @terryfosterdet
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