Tony Moeaki blames bad luck for his injury woes at Iowa. The former Hawkeye tight end, who is participating at this week’s annual NFL Scouting Combine, hopes to prove durability will not be an issue for him at the next level.
“I had never been hurt before high school,” said Moeaki, a former standout in Illinois. “Some freak accidents happened and those things are past me now.”
Despite suffering a laundry list of injuries at Iowa and missing games the past three seasons, Moeaki said he feels “fresh and healthy” at the combine. His physical exams and X-rays all came back clean.
Iowa offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga, also taking part at the combine, is confident his former teammate can overcome his past injuries and impress scouts and coaches in Indianapolis.
“If Tony says he’s healthy, I believe him,” Bulaga said. “He’s a great athlete and great football player. If he plays up to his potential, I think he can be very effective in the NFL.”
Bulaga scoffed at any notion that Moeaki is “soft” and injury prone.
“He’s the furthest thing from soft,” Bulaga said. “Tony is definitely not soft.”
Maybe unfortunate is a better word.
In 2007, Moeaki suffered season-ending injuries at Wisconsin in the fourth game and was granted a medical redshirt. He broke his hand, dislocated his elbow and tore a ligament in his wrist on one play.
In 2008, he missed a couple games with a broken foot suffered in fall camp. Last season, he was out three games with a high ankle sprain.
“If you woke me up and erased my memory, I wouldn’t be able to tell you I’ve been hurt before,” Moeaki joked. “It’s unfortunate that stuff happened, but at least I’m here now.”
Moeaki hopes his time on the field, along with his showing at the combine, will be enough to raise his stock for April’s draft. NFLdraftscout.com has him projected as a third- or fourth-round pick.
The all-Big Ten first-team selection also plans to work out at a pro day on March 22 in Iowa City to give scouts and coaches another chance to evaluate him.
“I’m confident in my abilities, but I’m not going to stand up here and declare it,” Moeaki said. “I’m going to try to show it in my workouts.”
Moeaki hopes NFL teams don’t focus too much on his previous injuries.
“I haven’t had any major knees, backs, neck, shoulders or anything crazy,” Moeaki said. “It’s just little dinky stuff and everything is healed. All the physicals went well and training has been good.”
Moeaki has drawn inspiration from former Iowa tight end and current Indianapolis Colts all-pro Dallas Clark.
“I really look up to Dallas,” he said. “I’ve met him more than a couple times. He has great character, just a really nice guy and even better at football. I wish I could do half the things he’s done.”