As the start of Iowa’s football season inches ever closer, we continue our countdown to kickoff by focusing on a player looking to make an impact at a major area of need for the Hawkeyes: the offensive line.
Tyler Elsbury (Jr.)
6’5”, 308 lbs.
Byron, IL (Byron HS)
2023 projection: Rotational interior lineman
Tyler Elsbury arrived at Iowa as a highly regarded lineman prospect, having been named twice to Illinois’ All-State team and ranked as a four-star prospect by 247Sports. As a high school player, recruiting analyst Allen Trieu compared Elsbury to 10+ year NFL veteran guard Tom Compton and argued that he had “the makings of being an All-Conference type player at either guard or tackle.” After redshirting during his first season, Elsbury worked his way into the line rotation in 2021, seeing action in each of Iowa’s games that year. While Elsbury was pegged as a likely starter at left guard coming into the 2022 campaign, he spent most of the year as a backup with his only two starts coming against Illinois and Ohio State. However, Elsbury still played a valuable role for the Hawkeyes last year, as offensive line coach George Barnett cited Elsbury’s positional versatility and his capacity to play three positions along the line as his biggest asset.
Looking to 2023, Elsbury seems likely to continue serving as a rotating backup to Iowa’s interior offensive line; he was slotted as the second-team left guard on the depth chart released in March, and the arrival of Miami (OH) transfer Rusty Feth will only make the starting lineup at guard more difficult to crack. Possibly the best path for Elsbury to emerge as a starter this season would involve Logan Jones struggling at center and Feth shining at right guard, which might prompt the coaching staff to start Elsbury at center instead of sliding Feth to that position and elevating Beau Stephens (the starting right guard during Spring practice) to his former position. Yet Elsbury could also be at risk of seeing his playing time diminish if other linemen like Stephens, Gennings Dunker, or Nick DeJong continue to show growth along the interior. If Elsbury can adopt a more physical style of play in 2023 (something coach Barnett cited as the rising junior’s “biggest challenge” during an interview last Fall), he should be able to carve out an important role on Iowa’s offensive line over his final two seasons.