JOY IN PAIN: Dylan Soehner’s journey to NFL’s doorstep

Former Iowa State tight end Dylan Souehner catches a pass during Pro Day drills on Tuesday, March 23, at the Bergstrom Football Complex. (Photo courtesy Mike Green/Iowa State Athletics Communications) 

Dylan Soehner is comfortable with pain.

 The former Iowa State tight end and NFL hopeful is certainly accustomed to playing through it.

 Last season, the 6-7, 268-pounder, sustained a severe high-ankle sprain in the 23-20 win over Texas and (of course) kept right on going. Eventually an MRI revealed the extent of the injury and Soehner underwent TightRope surgery in order to play in the highest profile games in program history.

 That’s Soehner. Even though he wasn’t 100 percent, he wouldn’t miss a shot at a Big 12 Championship, or the Cyclones’ first-ever New Year’s Six Bowl game.

 “(They) put in three ‘tightropes’ and a plate and a couple screws,” Soehner said during a Tuesday conference call after concluding Pro Day and NFL Combine drills at the Bergstrom Football Complex. “That was Dec. 1, I think, so I missed the West Virginia game that following Friday and Dec. 19, I believe, was the Big 12 title game and I got my staples out like three days before.”

 Soehner’s toughness and ability to flatten defenders in the run game is well-known, but he emerged as a reliable route runner and pass catcher his final two seasons.

 In 2020, he reeled in a single-season career-best 18 passes for 205 yards — and even completed a 28-yard pass to fellow tight end Chase Allen.

 Through the pain, Soehner showed he can do it all.

 Flash forward to Tuesday. Soehner clocked a 4.78-second 40-yard dash and also performed well in agility and pass catching drills. He said he felt no anxiety in the process. Just enjoyment and anticipation for the NFL career he’s determined to create.

“It never really got nerve-wracking for me,” Soehner said. “I kind of just cut loose and enjoyed it. I’m with a bunch of guys I haven’t seen for a while, so getting around those guys again, I kind of took the opportunity to just enjoy the day. You only get one of these things. For me, nerve-wracking, numbers are at the end of the day what they are. If somebody likes you, they like you. If you’ve got good tape, you’ve got good tape. And if you’re gonna play in the league, you’re gonna play in the league no matter what you did today. So nothing to be stressed about. Just cut loose and enjoy it and that’s what I did.”

 That’s Soehner. Happy to upend linebackers with powerful blocks, happy to tear down the field on special teams, happy to be playing the game that he loves. Always — in sickness and in health.

“I’m good,” Soehner said when asked about his overall health. “Honestly, probably playing in the Big 12 Championship (game) and playing in the (Fiesta) Bowl game probably set me back a bit in terms of recovery, but I’m glad I did it for sure. Since then, I’ve had time to kind of get back to myself, so feeling good.”

 Soehner projects to a late-round NFL Draft pick or highly-prized undrafted free agent. Either way, he’ll make the best of it. Just as he always had, regardless of the often blue-collar task at hand.

“Man, that’s just kind of what I do,” Soehner said. “There’s a job that’s typically labeled as ‘unfavorable’ in the football world (and) that’s kind of the job for me. Anything like, if the coach is like, ‘Man, who do we have do this?’ That’s kind of always been, ‘Oh, Dylan will do it.’ It’s kind of been my thing. Now, I honestly get more publicity out of college than I ever did in college, but that’s just kind of how it was. I wasn’t the star with the name everywhere. Just kind of contributed to the team, kind of under wraps.”


Iowa State’s all-time sacks leader JaQuan Bailey said he felt good about his performance in Tuesday’s Pro Day drills. Bailey opted not to take advantage of a possible sixth season with the Cyclones in order to fully commit to his dream of playing in the NFL. 

His mindset? 

“Just to come in and compete,” Bailey said. “Just try to put my best foot forward and to have fun. I feel like I did everything really well. I know that in my position drills (were good).”

 Bailey said he talked to a number of teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. 

“(I got) some good feedback,” he said. “That I was doing pretty well.”