116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — There always were two distinctive things about Connor Colby when he was at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School: his size and his mullet.
If anything, the true freshman tackle for the Iowa Hawkeyes has gotten even bigger since he enrolled in college for second semester this past school year. He’s listed at 6-foot-6 and 298 pounds.
“Still going,” the soft-spoken Colby said with a smile.
It was interesting to see the big mullet man listed on the initial fall camp two-deep roster for Iowa, which is preparing for its season opener in a week and a half against Indiana. He is No. 2 at right tackle behind sophomore Nick DeJong.
Wide receiver Keagan Johnson is the other true freshman on the two deeps, a backup to Tyrone Tracy Jr.
“For me, that really doesn’t mean much,” Colby said. “I’m just going to come out here with the rest of the guys and keep working … Keep my head down and keep working. I can’t predict anything. We’ll see how it falls.”
Iowa’s offensive line is anchored by as sure of a thing as you’ll get in All-America center Tyler Linderbaum. But other than him, the starting spots are sort of up for grabs, especially now that guard Kyler Schott is out a number of weeks with a foot injury incurred while bailing hay on his parents’ farm.
Going into fall camp, junior Jack Plumb was listed as the starter at left tackle, with redshirt freshman Mason Richman backing him up. Junior Cody Ince is No. 1 at left guard, with redshirt freshman Tyler Elsbury behind him.
Justin Britt has taken over starter’s duties for Schott at right guard. There is some flexibility here, with guys able to play multiple spots.
“I think the big thing you see is kids trying to take advantage of opportunities,” said first-year offensive line coach George Barnett. “Not only trying, but doing that. They have done a really nice job of showing up and working. It’s a tight-knit group, guys really respect each other in that offensive-line room. They’ve been through a lot of games together, whether they’re playing or not playing. The next-man-in mentality is certainly in play.”
Barnett said he has been impressed with Colby, a four-star recruit who committed to Iowa in June of 2019, the summer before his junior year. The coach said he believes Colby could even slide inside to a guard spot if the need arose.
If he stays healthy, there’s little doubt he’ll receive some playing time in 2021.
“He is a kid who you have to remind yourself sometimes of his age,” Barnett said. “I mean, he should have been going to prom (last spring). Instead he was here, working hard ... The kid loves football. He’s a joy to be around. The best way I can describe him is he’s like my son in a little league (baseball) game. He’ll strike out twice, then he’ll hit a bomb, and that’s all you hear about all the way home. He has a unique ability to move on. For an offensive lineman, that’s important.”
Colby said the adjustment to major college football is ongoing, as you’d imagine. He was asked about Barnett’s comment about being able to flush a bad play.
“Don’t try to perfect everything,” he said. “You are going to make mistakes. You’ve just got to learn from them … I think I get that from my dad. He always told me to worry about the next game.”
The kid has the endorsement of his center, by the way.
“It all starts with the spring practices when he first came in here,” Linderbaum said. “Just how fast he has been able to pick up stuff, I think, is pretty special. In my time here, I haven’t seen a freshman come in and be able to do the things he’s been able to do. Just understanding things. The playbook, obviously, there are a lot of things that go into it. Being able to pick things up as fast as he’s done has been impressive.”
Linderbaum went on with his praise of Colby.
“Then technique wise, I think that’s something that he’s excelled at from the spring all the way until the fall camp here,” he said. “Obviously there is a crap ton of stuff he’s got to work on, but he’s headed in the right direction.”
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