Dylan Soehner of Prairie Grove achieved a primary goal last December when he earned a college degree in finance, but he is far from finished at Iowa State.
Soehner has one year of eligibility left as a tight end for the Cyclones, who've had a resurgence under Matt Campbell, one of the best young coaches in college football. Campbell promised Soehner he could play tight end at Iowa State when some other college recruiters wanted him to move to offensive tackle.
"I had one coach tell me I wouldn't play a down at tight end in college," said Soehner, who picked Iowa State from a handful of Division I offers that included Missouri, Illinois and Purdue. "That made me even more determined to show that I could."
Soehner shares the tight end position at Iowa State with Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, so his offensive numbers from 2019 (7 catches, 107 yards) weren't great. But he was an honorable mention on the All-Big 12 coaches list because of his work at tight end and as an occasional lead blocker at H-Back for the Cyclones.
At 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, that's quite a load coming full speed out of the backfield for the Cyclones.
"Dylan has some freakish tendencies," Iowa State tight ends coach Alex Golesh told the Ames (Iowa) Tribune last season. "He's so different and unique in so many ways. He's an invaluable guy for us."
Soehner isn't all muscle and meanness on the field. Oklahoma found out the hard way when Soehner slipped away uncovered in the middle of the field and snatched a 23-yard scoring pass from Brock Purdy for his first career touchdown. Soehner's touchdown cut Oklahoma's lead to 28-14 in the second quarter. But the Sooners held on for a 42-41 victory after a failed 2-point attempt by the Cyclones with 2:19 left in the game.
"Getting that first career touchdown was great, especially against OU and in that environment in Norman with over 80,000 in the stadium watching," Soehner said. "Being from Prairie Grove, which is close to Oklahoma and their fans, I was pretty excited about it."
Soehner is back at Iowa State and fully recovered from a leg injury that kept him out of a bowl game last December against Notre Dame. Soehner hopes to go out with a bang in a 2020 season for Iowa State that begins with nonconference games against South Dakota, UNLV, and Iowa, the Cyclones' in-state rivals.
"For people who don't know about Iowa and Iowa State, just think Prairie Grove-Farmington and multiply that by about a million," said Soehner, who was all-state in football and basketball at Prairie Grove. "(ESPN) Gameday was here last year and the game this year is at their place. In Iowa, you're either a Cyclone or a Hawkeye (fan). It's 50-50. They hate you and you hate them."
Soehner is working on his master's degree in finance, but he is hopeful his football career won't end after his final season with the Cyclones. Besides his work at tight end, Soehner plays a lot on special teams, which could be his pathway to the NFL. He said he's spoken with Jim Lindsey, a former Arkansas star who played 11 years in the NFL as a backup running back and special teams player for the Minnesota Vikings.
"Dylan is the biggest person I've ever met in my life," Allen told the Ames (Iowa) Tribune following a practice session last season. "That man is so big and the way he moves is incredible. At practice, like the first play, he was in he just ran over someone. He just trampled some kid and that gets the offense fired up."
That's quite a compliment for Soehner, who left his home state of Arkansas and found success in the Big 12 Conference at Iowa State. He did so on his own terms by rejecting suggestions from some coaches he move to the offensive line.
Soehner stayed at tight end and showed he can make big plays in the passing game when given the opportunity.
Just ask the Sooners.