116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — It’s been a while since someone not named Tyler Linderbaum started at center for the Iowa football team.
But for the first time in 32 months, Iowa will have that scenario when it begins the 2022 season.
Here’s a look at where the offensive line stands in the latest installment of The Gazette’s winter position breakdown series:
The aforementioned Linderbaum’s departure — he declared for the NFL Draft on Jan. 14 — will be the biggest difference on the offensive line.
The stalwart, who received unanimous consensus All-America honors in 2021, started Iowa’s last 35 games and rarely left the field.
The Solon native led the offense in snaps played in 2019 and 2021 and almost had the lead in 2020, too. Fellow lineman Alaric Jackson edged him by one snap that year.
The Hawkeyes also will be without Kyler Schott, who overcame a preseason hay-baling injury to start the last 10 games of the 2021 season.
The experienced pair in the middle anchored an offensive line that was relatively young in 2021.
Iowa will return six offensive linemen — Cody Ince, Connor Colby, Mason Richman, Justin Britt, Jack Plumb and Nick DeJong — who already have made at least three starts.
Colby, who made 11 starts as a true freshman, earned first-team recognition on the Football Writers Association of America’s all-freshman team. Pro Football Focus also named the Cedar Rapids native to its all-true-freshman team.
Richman, Plumb, DeJong and Britt all saw the most playing time of their collegiate careers in 2021.
Ince, who will be a senior, overcame what offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz described as a “very difficult year.” The Luck, Wis., native was “banged up,” Ferentz said, and his grandfather died.
Ferentz singled out during his pre-bowl news conference a handful of other younger players who have stood out. Michael Myslinski “has done a really nice job” with the second team, Ferentz said.
The 38-year-old offensive coordinator also is “really excited” about David Davidkov, Beau Stephens and Gennings Dunker.
Who’s joining the mix
Three-star recruits Kale Krogh and Jack Dotzler will join the Hawkeyes, although Iowa likely will not be in a spot where it needs to start a true freshman in this position group in 2022.
Iowa could get a boost from the transfer portal. Hunter Nourzad, a standout at Cornell, included Iowa in his top-five list of transfer destinations.
Way-too-early two-deep projections
The shuffling between positions on the offensive line add a significant margin of error for any long-term projections. This appears to be the most likely scenario, barring any transfer portal additions.
- Mason Richman
- Nick DeJong
- Cody Ince
- Justin Britt (likely with the highest snap count of any second-team players)
- Michael Myslinski
- Matt Fagan
- Connor Colby
- Beau Stephens or David Davidkov or Gennings Dunker
- Jack Plumb
- Tyler Elsbury
Losing the best center in college football is an obvious challenge, but the experience coming back elsewhere on the offensive line should give fans reason for optimism.
How much optimism? That’ll depend on how much of a step forward younger athletes like Colby and Richman take after their first season with significant playing time.
While Iowa has traditionally not been a school to rely heavily on the transfer portal, there’s space for a veteran addition — whether that be Nourzad or someone else — to make an impact in 2022.
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