IOWA CITY, Iowa -- He's tall and strong. He has big, soft hands to wrap around the football. He might not have a wide receiver's speed, but he can hold his own in a foot race.
If you set out to build a prototype tight end, you might very well end up with Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz.
The Hawkeyes' new offensive coordinator, Greg Davis, has been coaching for 38 years and says he has never had a tight end like Fiedorowicz, who's 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, and seems poised for a breakout season in his junior year.
"There are not a bunch of guys anywhere that are that size, that can run and catch and do all of those things," Davis said. "C.J.'s got a chance to be an outstanding player."
Fiedorowicz has been a bit of a late bloomer after arriving at Iowa with sparkling high school credentials. He played seven different positions at Johnsburg (Ill.) High School, including quarterback and wide receiver, and compiled more than 3,000 receiving yards over four years. He's also the school's career scoring leader in basketball.
At Iowa, Fiedorowicz played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2010 but did not catch a pass. Other than being the tallest player on the field, he didn't do much to distinguish himself early last season, either.
"Then one game I just kind of decided, you know, I want to play, and I know I had the chance," he said. "Being out on the field means a lot."
Fiedorowicz caught 12 passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns in the last four games, becoming a receiver that quarterback James Vandenberg could depend on while also improving his blocking. He finished the season with 16 catches for 167 yards.
"It was just paying attention to details (and) listening to what the coaches had to say," Fiedorowicz said. "Being a tight end, you've got to be very versatile. You can't just be a pass-catching guy. In the Big Ten, you need to be able to block because Iowa runs the ball just as much as they throw the ball."
Fiedorowicz has a chance to add his name to a long list of outstanding tight ends who have come out of Iowa, players like Dallas Clark, Tony Moeaki, Scott Chandler, Brandon Myers and Marv Cook. It was that tradition that drew Fiedorowicz to Iowa in the first place.
"I wanted to go to a school that played the tight ends, that used them well," he said. "That sold me right there."
Now he has to keep selling the coaches - and Vandenberg - that he deserves to become a prime target.
"I think he knows where he's at in terms of his career right now," coach Kirk Ferentz said. "I read the articles that come out ... and I think self-admission, he said he could have worked harder in the last couple of years, and I think that realization came to him and that made him a better football player."
Added Vandenberg: "He's one of those guys where even when you try to guard him, he's open because he is so big."
Iowa fans expect - or at least hope - the offense will be more innovative under Davis, who took over when Ken O'Keefe left after 13 years to become the wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins.
At least for the tight ends, Fiedorowicz said, Davis' scheme has been easier to grasp.
"The last offense, I was kind of confused because in the play call, it would tell what the receivers had to do and not the tight end," he said. "You just had to go off the sound of it and remember what you had to do in the route. This offense, it tells you the number of your route. It's a lot more focused on what you have to do."
Knowing what to do is just the first step. More important is turning that knowledge into production.
"It's up to the tight ends and how we do in camp," Fiedorowicz said. "If we're not producing and catching the balls in camp, they're not going to throw it to us during the season."