GRIDIRON: One-on-One with former ISU receiver Josh Lenz


Photo: Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily

Then-senior wide receiver Josh Lenz sits on the sidelines watching as time ticks away in the fourth quarter of his last collegiate game, which was against Tulsa at the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, 2012.  The Cyclones lost to the Golden Hurricane 31-17 in the 54th Liberty Bowl.

Dean Berhow-Goll

Josh Lenz has lived the life of an NFL practice-squad player for the last two months. 

One week with the Seattle Seahawks, one week back home, some time spent in Indianapolis and then straight back to the west coast. One thing is for certain: It’s a roller-coaster ride all around the country.

At Iowa State, Lenz played through all four years, even receiving time as a return man his freshman year. Against TCU last year — who Iowa State plays this weekend — Lenz set career marks.

He earned Capital One Player of the Week honors with five catches for a total of 147 yards, plus three touchdowns, two of them receiving and one of them a passing touchdown to Ernst Brun.

Lenz was initially signed as an undrafted free agent with the Bears out of Iowa State. 

We know you signed with the Seahawks practice squad a few weeks ago and were released again. What has been going on these last few weeks being cut and signed repeatedly?

What they do out here is they sign a bunch of guys they like for their practice squad and rotate them. I think I’ll be back out here in a week or so. It’s a crazy business; you just really don’t even know what’s going to happen. 

Two weeks ago I was released and I was off for a week and my agent told me I had a workout with Indianapolis, went really good, but they didn’t end up signing anybody from the workout and so I was on my way home and my agent called and said, ‘Hey, don’t get on the plane yet; Seattle is going to fly you back out here and sign you back to the practice squad.’ It’s a crazy business, man.

You were cut from the Bears, who you initially signed with. What were the next few weeks like for you after you were cut for the first time in your career? 

It’s hard when you make it until the last cut like I did because it’s hard to get back on another team because they have their roster set. I think it was four or five weeks before I heard from Seattle. I was in Dubuque working out at Lloris college, using their weight room. I didn’t have anybody to throw to me while I was here, so I’d take my brother (Jordan, age 13) with me and he’d shoot me balls from the jug machine, so that’s how I was getting catches in. Then I heard from Seattle and came out with my backpack and duffel bag and had a good workout and they told me they wanted to sign me to the practice squad right after my workout.

You were a player whose stock improved after a strong Pro Day performance here in Ames. What advice do you have for players facing a make-or-break situation for their Pro Day? 

Go into it like you would go into an NFL Scouting Combine. Because there are going to be scouts there and all it takes is the one scout to like you, the one team to like you, to get that chance, and with Yancy [McKnight] and [Clayton Oyster] they do a good job of getting you ready. 

You can’t miss any days either; you can’t show up every couple days. When we were getting ready last year, I was showing up every day and putting in the work to get ready for it.

What has it been like living on the road all the time? Have you just been living out of a suitcase and eating take-out Chinese food?

Once you get out here the team covers you for a week. So for the first time I was out here I was here for a week in a hotel and then had to find an apartment. Living out of a hotel is rough. It’s a good thing that the Hilton out here in Seattle has a comfy bed; they had some comfy beds.

What have you seen from this year’s team and what they’ve struggled with? Do you think it’s something specific?

It’s tough losing those games like they did at the beginning of the year. You look at the Texas game. They gave up a couple plays; the play at the end of the half was huge. You take that away and you take away when they stopped them on the goal line and [Jeremiah George] is running the other way. That goal-line stop: They get that, they win the game and who knows what the season could be. That could’ve been the win to turn the season around. 

What did you think of Quenton Bundrage when you played with him? Did you always know he was going to be this good of a wide receiver?

I knew he was a good player. He was always showing it in practice; he’s just getting his chance now. We all have kind of gone through that, where there’s somebody in front of you and you have to wait. When I was playing, you had guys like Marquis [Hamilton], Darius Reynolds, and I went through that and you just had to bide your time. I think this is definitely his time and he’s stepping up and taking advantage of it.