116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Logan Jones is a big fan of his new number — 65.
“It’s like I got superpowers,” Jones said, referencing the unanimous All-American who wore it before him. “It’s an honor to wear this number.”
It’s not just the number he has in common with Tyler Linderbaum. Jones is in the midst of the same position change — from defensive line to center — that Linderbaum made four years ago.
As the first-team center at Iowa’s open practice Saturday, he’s transitioning from defense to offense at a similarly-fast pace, too, which has been “a struggle in some ways,” Jones said.
“Right now, my brain is moving at 1,000 miles per hour trying to comprehend everything,” Jones said.
But Jones said learning the center position is coming along “a little bit quicker” than learning the defensive line when he arrived in Iowa City.
“It just feels a little more natural,” Jones said.
Jones still remembers offensive line coach George Barnett’s message to him on his first day of practice as an offensive lineman — when “everything was moving 100 miles per hour.”
“It’s your first day, go out there, just play,” Jones recalled Barnett telling him. “If you start thinking too much, you’re going to be tentative and you’re not going to want to go out there and play. So just flex, go, play and hit somebody.”
Barnett, having worked with other guys who “play off rhythm and feel,” has been careful not to “overburden” Jones during the transition.
“If they get too overburdened with all the details, he could actually slow his progress,” Barnett said.
Jones’ work on the offensive side has earned praise from his coaches.
“He does a lot of things again instinctively, naturally,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Saturday. “He has a knack of fitting into the right places, doing the right things.”
Barnett said the top reason why Jones is doing a “tremendous job” at center goes down to “how he’s wired” and “who he is as a person.”
“He’s very competitive,” Barnett said last week. “He likes contact. He’s really smart. He likes to ask questions. He likes to find out the whys of doing things.”
Knowing how the defensive line plays — and specifically how Iowa’s defensive line plays — comes with a perk in practice.
“Sometimes I’ll cheat the system,” Jones said. “I’ll hear a call they’re doing and I’ll be like, ‘OK, he’s blitzing out here.’ So I’ll try to help us out a little bit. The defense doesn’t like it, but if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.”
Ferentz said he always thinks about potential positions players could move to, if needed. Linebacker Jack Campbell, for example, has six positions “he probably could play pretty well.”
There are two major factors that go into Ferentz’s decisions on whether to move a player to a different position — “what he might be able to do” at the new position and the depth at the positions in question.
“We try not to move guys just to move ‘em,” Ferentz said. “If there’s a good rationale for it, we’ll have a discussion.”
When the time came for that discussion, Jones checked both of the Hawkeyes’ boxes for moving positions.
“Would Logan have played defensive tackle for us this year? Absolutely,” defensive line coach Kelvin Bell said. “He would have been a really good one, much like Tyler, but there’s a need on offense. From a depth standpoint, offensive lineman, that’s the best spot for him.”
Still, that doesn’t mean Bell was thrilled to hear a player who he invested a lot of time in was leaving his room.
“I think he’s finally over it, a couple weeks later,” Ferentz said last month. “But he may still be mad at me, and that’s OK.”
Now that the discussion and move has happened, Jones can learn from Linderbaum — the previous guy to wear a No. 65 uniform at Kinnick Stadium.
“I’ve watched so much of his film,” Jones said. “Trying to learn from it still.”
The old No. 65 already is helping the new No. 65.
“He knows exactly what I’m going through,” Jones said. “He said to text him any time if I do need something.”
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