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2022 position previews: Interior offensive line

There’s reason for optimism! And despair.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Iowa Hawkeyes lost their best player from offense when Tyler Linderbaum got drafted in the first round to the Baltimore Ravens. Good for him. But he leaves some big cleats to fill.

In addition to him departing, Iowa lost an additional 19 starts in guards Kyler Schott & Cody Ince. Connor Colby returns. So there’s that.

The record setter

Colby started the most games as a true freshman of any Hawkeye lineman under Kirk Ferentz. After rewatching his high school tape, it’s easy to see why.

That’s 5:00 of a guy being bigger, stronger, faster, and meaner than the guy in front of him. If I had my druthers, I’d slide him out to right tackle and figure out the rest later. Anyways, what might be holding that option back is that there isn’t much depth behind him.

The newest converted defensive lineman

Logan Jones switched over to center from defensive line ahead of spring ball and has put himself on the top of the depth chart. The redshirt sophomore was the prototypical Iowa football recruit as a multi-sport athlete, including state championships in the shot put and discus.

He’s a weight room room sensation, with two records as a defensive lineman. As Bartt noted in the linked write-up, he still has room to grow, as he’s still under 300 pounds. But he’s a got the fire you want. It’ll be imperative for him to get up to speed with the playbook, as protections are arguably the most important job of the center but the ceiling for him is high & if he can be anything like his predecessor, he’ll have a good career in the black and gold.

The rest of the depth chart

None of Tyler Elsbury, Matt Fagan, Michael Myslinski, & Beau Stephens have any first team offensive line experience. Elsbury is the top line LG after Justin Britt was announced out for the season. Only Fagan, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this past spring, is past his third year on campus. Elsbury & Stephens came highly regarded as four-star prospects while Myslinski decommitted from Texas before coming to Iowa. That doesn’t happen often.

In other words, the talent seems to be there. The only issue is that it is a very green group and will be put through trial by fire.

Other guys

Gennings Dunker won the hay bale toss at Solon Beef Days. He looked the part.

Griffin Liddle & Josh Volk were class of 2021 & 2020 recruits. Kale Krough & Jack Doltzer were the only linemen taken this past class. You go into the football season with the offensive linemen you have.

The talent & bodies up front appear to be there, as most of those listed above weigh above 300 pounds and come highly regarded as recruits. The issue is their youth. That’ll change quickly, as it did for Colby last year. If Iowa can find two more Connor Colbys, they’ll be in fantastic shape for 2022 & 2023. If they can’t, then many will be chalking up poor offensive performance to this group of linemen.