By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Lukas Van Ness will leave the Iowa football team without having ever started a game for the Hawkeyes.
But that didn’t stop him from making a huge impact, or from making a strong impression on those at the highest level of football.
Van Ness, a third-year sophomore defensive lineman, announced Tuesday on Twitter that he would declare for the 2023 NFL draft.
Van Ness has been a disruptive force on the defensive line for Iowa over the past two seasons, earning second-team All-Big Ten this season.
“It was not an easy decision to leave the University of Iowa with eligibility remaining,” Van Ness said in his statement on Twitter. ”
He finished the 2022 regular season with 10 tackles for loss, and with six sacks and four quarterback hurries despite seeing limited playing time as part of a deep rotation on the Iowa defensive line.
Van Ness also played a key role as a redshirt in 2021, finishing with 8.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and three quarterback hurries as a reserve.
A native of Barrington, Illinois, Van Ness has been listed on multiple 2023 NFL mock drafts as going anywhere from the first to the third round.
He redshited at Iowa in 2020 and is now eligible for the NFL draft since this is his third season out of high school, and at 6-foot-5 and 269 pounds, Van Ness has a rare combination of size, strength and athleticism.
His loss is significant for the Iowa defense, and would hurt even more if senior defensive linemen Noah Shannon, John Waggomer and Joe Evans all chose not to use their free Covid year next season.
Van Ness was a key piece to one of the top defenses in the country, and he and his cohorts pitched a shutout in the 21-0 victory over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl this past Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Big loss for the Iowa defense, but makes sense why Lukas would leave as he projects to go high in the 2023 NFL despite having never started a game for Iowa. https://t.co/uu6bCRA3v6
— Pat Harty (@PatHarty) January 3, 2023