As the days of the week tick by, so too do the days in our countdown to the return of Iowa Hawkeyes football. We’re officially 74 days form opening day and while it’s sad to think a year ago we would be highlighting a pair of players, including Tristan Wirfs, today we’re taking a look at a senior defensive lineman looking to leave his mark on the program.
Austin Schulte - Senior
Pella, IA (Pella)
6’4”, 290 lbs
2020 Projection: Starting Defensive Tackle
Austin Schulte is the stereotypical feel-good story of Iowa football. A 3-star prospect out of small town Iowa, Schulte held offers from only a handful of FCS programs and the Hawkeyes. He came to Iowa City as a 250 pound defensive end who had largely played linebacker at Pella and spent the first three years adding bulk and biding his time.
Schulte redhisrted in 2016 and saw no game action in either 2017 or 2018. But in 2019, the redshirt junior broke into the two-deeps and saw action in all 13 games while earning a pair of starts.
He totaled 12 tackles in those 13 games largely playing the role of blocker occupier. His career high of 4 tackles came in Iowa’s 17-12 loss to Penn State, while his two starts came against Middle Tennessee State and Michigan.
As we look ahead to 2020, Schulte will be asked to do more. As the incumbant senior, he’s in a good spot to step into a full time starting role in the middle of the defense alongside Daviyon Nixon. Northern Illinois grad transfer Jack Heflin may push Schulte for the starting gig and the competition will be something to monitor as camp starts up later this summer.
Regardless of who ultimately wins the job, Kelvin Bell and Phil Parker have shown they like the ability to rotate guys, particularly in the middle, to keep everyone fresh along the defensive line. Expect Schulte to be integral in that regard, continuing to soak up blockers to free up linebackers to pad their tackling stats.