Next up on the countdown to the start of Iowa’s 2019 football season is a tough-minded, hard-hitting middle linebacker who flew somewhat under the radar as a high school recruit but was taken straight out of central casting to be Iowa’s next standout at the position.
No, not this guy:
Not him either:
Dillon Doyle- RS Freshman
Iowa City, Iowa (West)
6’3”, 235 lbs
2019 Projection: Backup Middle Linebacker
Doyle is a local kid who was a defensive standout at Iowa City West, twice earning first team all-district honors and being recognized as the district’s top defensive player during his senior year. Doyle saw limited action last season as a true freshman and will enter 2019 with four years of eligibility remaining. Doyle bulked up considerably during his redshirt season, transforming from a somewhat lanky 214 lb. high school player to an imposing 235 lb. man who looks ready for major college football action.
Then again, with a last name like “Doyle” it’s hard to imagine slacking off in the weight room was ever much of an option for #43. The son of legendary Hawkeye strength and conditioning Chris Doyle, Dillon was a natural fit for the black and gold having grown up around the program and watched standout linebackers such as Jewell and Angerer become the new gold standard for production at the position during the modern era. Dillon’s brother Declan Doyle even served as a student assistant for the program over the past three years before moving on to an offensive assistant position with the New Orleans Saints.
Make no mistake though, Iowa didn’t offer #43 a spot on the team simply due to his family connections. Doyle’s strong spring landed him second on the depth chart behind senior Kristian Welch, and all indications are that he may be in line for meaningful playing time this season. The coaching staff has been high on Doyle since the beginning, and linebackers coach Seth Wallace’s statement of confidence last October that, “Dillon Doyle could run our defense,” despite being a true freshman pegged for a redshirt season left many fans eager to see what he could do when finally given a real chance to compete for a starting job.
Welch is likely the favorite to start at middle linebacker this season, as it is somewhat rare for Iowa’s coaching staff to elevate a freshman over a talented senior in good standing, especially early in the season. However, if Welch struggles or misses time with injury, it could very well open the door for Doyle to have a meaningful impact on Iowa’s defense in 2019. If nothing else, Doyle seems tailor-made to be a standout on special teams next year, so fans will likely hear his name called quite a few more times this fall than they did in 2018.