George Kittle reveals why Iowa tight ends translate so well to NFL under Kirk Ferentz

The University of Iowa is Tight End U in George Kittle's eyes for one very important reason.

George Kittle, Iowa Hawkeyes
George Kittle, Iowa Hawkeyes / Matthew Holst/GettyImages
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It's not glamorous, it's Iowa. That may or may not be plastered on a wall somewhere near Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. I don't know. I have never been there. But what I do know is that Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeyes program produces tight ends like no other in the sport. My alma mater of the University of Georgia is right up there with them, but that is Georgia and this is Iowa. So why is Iowa Tight End U?

I had the opportunity to speak with Iowa alum George Kittle over the phone earlier this week on behalf of Alka-Seltzer. Kittle embodies the work hard, play hard mantra professionally, but he is every bit a pro, one who is never afraid to tighten up his bootstraps, grab his lunchpail and hard hat and go to work. He revealed to me tight ends who play for Ferentz are ideally equipped to go play in the NFL.

The big key in all this is a willingness to run block and run block well. Kittle finds this to be paramount.

"At the University of Iowa, one of the first things I heard as a freshman is if you don't learn how to run block, you're never going to play here. When you hear that as an 18-year-old, you're like, 'Oh, okay. Sounds good. Well, I better figure this out then...'"

Buying into run blocking because it is good for you and your offense allows for two and three-star prospects coming out of high school to have a great chance of ultimately playing on fall Sundays.

"And then what Iowa does is it is such a school of 'we're gonna take all these two and three-star guys and make them NFL ready through hard work, through reps and the amount of reps you get fundamentally in Iowa from run blocking technique."

No matter if he likes it or not, Kittle says great run blocking technique is what gets you on the field immediately, both in college and absolutely at the next level. This type of work undeniably translates.

"Is it really fun? No, not all the time. But am I getting better from it? Yes. If you can just continue to get better from it, that's why you have these guys that come from Iowa that can play football like immediately when they get out because they're ready for the moment."

Finally, Kittle says that Ferentz and his staff prepare you to not only get to the NFL, but to stay there.

"They understand that football is not just a sport, it's your job. You have to try really hard and give a full effort. You have to work on the fundamentals consistently. Otherwise, you're going to get passed up and passed over."

Whether you are a great pass-catcher like Kittle or a traditional blocking tight end, Iowa finds a way.

George Kittle explains how Kirk Ferentz has made Iowa Tight End U

Even though going to the San Francisco 49ers and playing for Kyle Shanahan has certainly elevated Kittle's on-field performance and overall national profile, again, he does not get drafted out of Iowa if he did not buy-in to being a great run blocker first. It wasn't glamorous, but it gave talented players like Kittle a very high floor as an NFL prospect because at least one part of his game would translate.

Although the NFL is an increasingly passing-centric league, you have to remember what the tight end position was originally built upon: Run blocking, pass protection and occasionally running drag routes behind the opposing defensive line. This is the type of stuff Mike Ditka did during his playing career for the Chicago Bears It wasn't until Kellen Winslow Sr. changed the game by playing in the Air Coryell.

Overall, Kittle's explanation of what makes Iowa tight ends so good at the next level was incredibly satisfactory. As it is with anything good in the world, the simpler, the better. At Iowa, it is about doing the dirty work and putting in the reps to get better at something that will not only get you on the field, but will keep you on the field. Kittle bought into Ferentz's teachings early and is cashing in dividends.

Once again, Kittle is another shining example of why put team before self will inevitably serve you.

George Kittle spoke to FanSided on behalf of Alka-Seltzer.

Kittle is partnering with Alka-Seltzer to help fans SAY YES to going big on game day without any unwanted symptoms taking them down.

Alka-Seltzer has a variety of solutions to provide fast relief so George can stay in the game – from cold and flu to hangovers and heartburn.

This season, George is encouraging fans to FIZZ and FLEX on game day knowing that Alka-Seltzer has their back and will help them tackle any symptoms that could get in the way of their game day celebrations.

To celebrate saying YES all season long, Alka-Seltzer is running a sweepstakes from now until January 7th calling on fans to share a photo or video on Instagram of how they #FizzAndFlex on game days for a chance to win $30,000 for the ultimate game day celebration. Additional prizes will be awarded weekly, helping fans celebrate the season to the fullest.

Next. George Kittle loves playing with Brock Purdy, even if he is a Cyclone. George Kittle loves playing with Brock Purdy, even if he is a Cyclone. dark