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Hawkeyes' Heflin keeps it real as draft nears
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IOWA FOOTBALL

Hawkeyes' Heflin keeps it real as draft nears

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IOWA FOOTBALL VS PENN STATE

Iowa defensive tackle Jack Heflin celebrates a sack during the Hawkeyes' win at Penn State last season. The Prophetstown, Ill., native is currently preparing for the upcoming NFL draft.

Jack Heflin approaches the NFL Draft process like he has approached everything else in life.

The Iowa defensive lineman from Prophetstown simply rolls up his sleeves and gets to work, believing his small-town roots and blue-collar, attention-to-detail approach can help him land an opportunity in professional football.

"When I talk with teams, I’m just being me," Heflin said. "I’m not trying to sell them on something I’m not. I’m a small-town kid who works hard, stays humble and will do the job. I’m not trying to be too flashy and be somebody I’m not."

Heflin said he has spoken with 18 NFL teams as the April 29 start of the NFL draft approaches, part of what he labels "the longest job interview" he could ever imagine.

His play as a starter in the Hawkeyes’ front four on defense as a graduate transfer from Northern Illinois last season caught the attention of some teams.

More liked what they saw from Heflin during and in the days leading up to the Hula Bowl.

Others noticed his work at Iowa’s Pro Day last month.

It’s all part of the ongoing process that has kept Heflin busy since the end of the Hawkeyes’ 6-2 season.

"There’s no holding back right now, no Plan B," Heflin said. "Playing professional football is something I have always dreamt about, and this is my chance. I’m doing everything I can to give myself that opportunity."

Heflin believes he has a lot to offer an NFL team.

From the tenacity of his game at the tackle position he filled with the Hawkeyes to the adaptability that has been a necessity throughout his college career, Heflin has some unique traits he hopes can separate him from other prospects.

During three seasons as a starter at Northern Illinois, where he earned all-Mid-American Conference honors in the final two, and as a starter last season at Iowa, Heflin has played for three head coaches and four defensive coordinators.

"I’ve adapted to different schemes, philosophies and coaching styles every step of the way," Heflin said. "I feel like I’ve been able to learn from everything I’ve experienced, and I do believe that now that helps me a lot. I’ve shown that I can adapt and I’m willing to adjust and do whatever I’m being asked to do."

Heflin has welcomed the chance to learn at both Northern Illinois and Iowa.

He said his experience as a graduate transfer with the Hawkeyes provided him with the opportunity to take his game to another level.

"The expectations of the players at Iowa taught me to be professional in the way I went about things, and I think last season gave me a chance to mature as a person and a player," Heflin said.

"I learned a lot about the game last year, the mental side of it, and getting a chance to compete against Big Ten competition week in and week out only helped me. I feel like the experience has prepared me to compete at the next level."

NFL scouts and coaches have told Heflin they like the way he plays the run and can see that he understands the game, displaying a high football IQ.

"They say they would like me to be more disruptive and they see the potential there, saying it is not a lack of power. They just want me to be more consistent with it, and that’s something I’m ready to do."

Heflin has been working on that since the end of the season.

He joined the Hawkeyes’ Mekhi Sargent in participating in the Hula Bowl on Jan. 31, a chance to compete and be seen as he prepared for the game.

"It was a business trip," Heflin said. "With COVID, there are limited chances to get out in front of people, and that was one of them. It was a good experience and gave people a chance to see what I’m about."

Prior to the Hula Bowl, he spent time training in Texas with APEC DFW and in recent weeks returned to the Iowa football facility to work with Hawkeye strength and conditioning personnel, initially to prepare for Iowa’s Pro Day and more recently to remain ready for whatever the future holds.

His Pro Day was productive, particularly in the drills he ran.

"I feel like I showed my ability to rush the passer and as a run stopper," Heflin said. "It was a good day to build off of."

Heflin is participating in his share of video calls with front-office personnel and coaches from NFL teams, something that will likely continue in upcoming weeks.

He expects to split time between Iowa City and Texas prior to the draft, continuing to train and prepare for whatever the future might hold.

"I’m looking forward to May 2, having it all figured out by then and being ready to move forward from there," he said.

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