Welcome to the official countdown to kickoff! Each day through September 4th we’re highlighting a member of the Iowa football team whose number corresponds with the number of days remaining until football returns to Kinnick Stadium. You can find each of the previous players highlighted in the Countdown to Kickoff stream here. You can also find the full Iowa roster here.
Up next is #65, offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum!
We continue our march toward kickoff with a player who needs no introduction, an absolute superstar in starting center Tyler Linderbaum!
Tyler Linderbaum - Junior
Solon, IA (Solon)
6’3”, 290 lbs
2021 Projection: Starting Center/Rimington Winner/Superstar
Tyler Linderbaum started his journey to the NFL as a prep at Solon High School, just a few miles down the road from Kinnick Stadium. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school and excelled at just about everything he touched, but football was where he found his calling.
Ironically, his success was largely on the defensive side of the ball, however, where he earned high school All-America honors as a defensive tackle. At Iowa, though, he was quickly converted to the offensive side of the ball where Kirk Ferentz and staff took that defensive intensity and channeled it into a punishing blocker in the center of the Iowa offense.
After a redshirt season as a freshman in 2018, the former defensive lineman started all 13 games his redshirt freshman season in 2019 for the Hawkeyes and earned honorable mention honors in the Big Ten from both the coaches and the media.
It was in 2020, however, the Linderbaum went from co-star on the Iowa offensive line to superstar in the offensive line world. After serving up pancake after pancake in Iowa’s eight games, Linderbaum was named 1st Team All-Big Ten by the media and 2nd team by the coaches (LOL) while being named 1st Team All-America by Pro Football Focus and The Athletic, as well as 2nd Team All-America by the Associated Press, FWAA, Walter Camp and Phil Steele. Linderbaum was one of three finalists for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top center.
To put it more succinctly, Linderbaum was considered one of the top-two centers in the country last year and the other guy isn’t in college football this year. As a result, the Hawkeye is a preseason 1st Team All-American by pretty much everyone. Barring injury, he is a lock to be the top center in the conference and will undoubtedly be on every watch list for the Rimington Trophy again this season.
He’s. A. Superstar.
As Pro Football Network points out, Linderbaum’s explosion and athleticism jump off the screen when you watch him play .
The first thing that stands out about Linderbaum when you turn on the tape is his athleticism. He explodes out of his stance with exceptional fluidity. Once he’s out of his stance, he’s always moving, always on his feet. Linderbaum gets out to the second level exceptionally well in the run game, easily outpacing his compatriots on the offensive line. For a guy who is listed at 289 pounds, he demonstrates phenomenal play speed.
He’s a guy that works hard, explodes off the ball and through the block and then looks for more. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s strong and uses his footwork to generate leverage and a strong base in pass pro.
And in terms of snapping, it’s difficult to recall a bad snap or center exchange despite working with different QBs in his two seasons as Iowa’s starter. He’s a sure thing in just about every facet of the game.
That’s why he’s considered the top center in the country. Beyond his college prospects, however, those skills are almost certain to push Linderbaum into the first round of next year’s NFL Draft.
Most early mocks have the Iowa center as the clear tops in the draft, but several also have him in the back half of the first round. Hawkeye fans will recall that the strong season a year ago made him a potential early departure, but Linderbaum apparently didn’t think long on the option. That could pay off handsomely in 2022 should things go according to plan.
Bottom line for Hawkeye fans: enjoy this treasure while he’s still a Hawkeye. Linderbaum will be clearing the way for All-Big Ten running back Tyler Goodson and provides Iowa with all the ingredients to put together a winning offense each week. He’ll be gone this time next year.