Welcome back to our countdown to the Iowa Hawkeyes football season. We’re entering what I called the twilight zone of the countdown with offensive linemen over the next few weeks. There aren’t many stats or highlights for them!
Mason Richman, Jr.
6-6, 308 lbs.
Leawood, Kan. (Blue Valley)
2023 projection: starting left tackle
Richman has had a pretty busy three years as a Hawkeye considering his pedigree does not necessarily match the miles he’s put on. 247 did have him as a 4-star lineman but his offer list behind the Hawks topped out at Kansas and MAC flotsam. He came to Iowa in January of 2020 before the COVID break and found him in three games as they didn’t count against his scholarship years. He was one of eight true freshmen to see the field in the shortened season.
As a redshirt freshman, he was a spring backup to Jack Plumb at left tackle before injuries ran roughshod over the offensive line. The cascading effect of Justin Britt’s injury shifted Cody Ince back inside (who eventually retired after 2021) and Plumb over to right tackle. Richman started 12 of Iowa’s 14 games, as he missed parts of three games due to an injury. He was what was to be expected for a freshman offensive lineman: some good, some bad, and he finished the season as an honorable mention all-conference selection.
Last season, he replicated his honorable mention season and started all thirteen of Iowa’s games. While the line struggled around him, he was a constant presence as the bookend. After all, the best ability is sometimes availability and he was always there. Despite that, Iowa yielded 3 sacks per game, which ranked 103rd in the country.
I don’t think this is a “put up or shut up” season for Richman so much as Iowa’s line as a whole, considering the Hawkeyes employ three OL coaches by trade. I think he can, and will, continue being a solid-to-good left tackle for Iowa. History shows they can have good lines with LTs of that caliber (i.e. did Alaric Jackson ever wow you?). A really, really good year could launch him into draft discussions for 2024 or 2025.
The funkiness of Iowa’s lineplay comes from the inability to identify a root cause: were they too young? how much does QB elusiveness play into a line’s ability? how long can Iowa employ blocking techniques being administrated out of the game? can playcalling & design make the jobs of these guys easier? is center actually the most important position? etc. etc. But that is another post for another day.