Iowa Football

Tyler Linderbaum to center is the first big Iowa football story of 2019

The freshman from Solon did pin Tristan Wirfs that one time, that one time

Iowa Hawkeyes offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz during the team's first Outback Bowl Practice in Florida Thursday, December 27, 2018 at Tampa University. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)
Iowa Hawkeyes offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz during the team's first Outback Bowl Practice in Florida Thursday, December 27, 2018 at Tampa University. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s been maybe 15 practices, but this Tyler Linderbaum-to-center thing has become a phenomenon.

The Solon native played defensive tackle during his true freshman season for the Hawkeyes. He has eligibility remaining to retain his redshirt and keep his four years on the field.

Every second of which he’ll spend at the center spot.

“I kind of felt like Jimmy Johnson on that,” Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said Thursday. “I don’t know what they got back, but we got Linderbaum and that was pretty good.”

That’s a reference to the trade former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson engineered with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings got running back Herschel Walker. The Cowboys got the building blocks to 1990s-era dominance.

“I feel like he’s got some of the intangibles and on top some of the physical attributes that guys that have played well for us in the past at that position have had and he’s picked it up pretty quickly,” Ferentz said. “That’s a good start and we’re pretty excited about that.”

Head coach Kirk Ferentz said he was absolutely willing to dig into the depth at defensive tackle for a center who could be a multiyear starter. Defensive tackle is going to be an area of concern next season. And, sorry, the only update on potential DT prospect Daviyon Nixon, who took an academic redshirt this season, on Thursday was this from Kirk Ferentz: “Everything about him has been very positive. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope everything is good when we get going in January.”

Defensive tackle will need tending, but Kirk Ferentz seemed good with the potential of having center solved for the foreseeable future.

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“He has transitioned pretty well,” Ferentz said. “A lot of times it’s a real tough transition for a guy to go from defense to offense. He has a little feel and knack for it. He has to learn a lot of finer points now, but he is getting a lot of work and I think he is enjoying it.”

When the Ferentz offensive line company mentions “intangibles” and “knack,” a lot of times, that comes back to wrestling.

Linderbaum checks that box. He has a wrestling pedigree that includes a 53-10 record as a junior and a fifth-place finish in the state meet as a Class 2A heavyweight.

And, oh yeah, he pinned Tristan Wirfs that one time. You know Wirfs. He was a star football player and a state champion heavyweight for Mount Vernon. He also has been the starting right tackle for the Hawkeyes the last two seasons. No one can recall if he allowed a sack this season. That’s a good thing for an offensive tackle.

It looks like Wirfs and Linderbaum faced each other four times, with Wirfs compiling a 3-1 record. Linderbaum pinned Wirfs in a regional dual match between the two schools when Wirfs was a senior.

“He got me on the last one in the duals,” Wirfs said. “That’s the one everybody remembers. That was tough, that was tough.”

And, no, Linderbaum isn’t still living off that.

“He always has my back on that,” Wirfs said. “But that is the one everyone remembers.”

Every time, Wirfs knew it was going to be a battle with Linderbaum.

“It got tougher every time,” Wirfs said. “I don’t think I was ever able to throw him. It was always going to be pretty close. I was always nervous because he would come out like a bulldog, all fighting and stuff. I just tried to slow things down, but he was too fast.”

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It’s only been a handful of practices, but it feels like this Linderbaum-center thing has a chance.\

Iowa football notes

— Defensive tackle Cedrick Lattimore didn’t practice Thursday.

“He has a little soft tissue stuff. We hope to have him out tomorrow,” Ferentz said. “He’s supposed to be, he was moving around pretty well today.”

— As far as true freshmen and redshirts go, Iowa is in the clear. Everyone outside of defensive backs Julius Brents, Riley Moss and Kaevon Merriweather can play without losing their redshirts.

Two names Kirk Ferentz mentioned for some action were wide receiver Tyrone Tracy and cornerback D.J. Johnson.

— Players have received feedback from the NFL draft advisory committee. Tight end T.J. Hockenson didn’t tip his hand. The Mackey Award winner, defensive end Anthony Nelson and safety Amani Hooker asked for evaluations.

Kirk Ferentz said he doesn’t expect any announcements during bowl week.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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