Football Freshman Spotlight: Tyler Linderbaum

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — There is a 30 second video floating somewhere on a popular social media site “featuring” a shirtless, sweaty Tyler Linderbaum arguing an official’s call.
That wouldn’t be completely out of the ordinary for a college freshman student-athlete, except the officials were Linderbaum’s father and uncle, the opponent was his older brother, and the sport was ping pong.
Love of family and competition pretty much describes this 6-foot-2, 270-pound true freshman defensive tackle from Solon, Iowa.
“Tyler is a guy who likes playing, competing, and being part of his team,” University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said. “All those things we identified in the recruiting process we have experienced first hand for four months.”
Always on the lookout for multi-sport athletes, the Hawkeyes landed a gem in Linderbaum, who had been dominating year-round for years in their own back yard.
It was football in the fall, where Linderbaum was named all-state and then U.S. Army All-American.
In winter there was wrestling, where he placed third at the Class 2A state tournament as a senior at 285 pounds.
In spring there was track and field, where Linderbaum was second at the 2018 Class 3A state championships in the shot put and third in the discus.
Then came summer. As a corner infielder, Linderbaum batted .296 with two home runs and 36 RBIs. As a pitcher, he was 5-1 with a 1.35 earned run average.
Linderbaum’s summer days weren’t exactly lazy or hazy, but undoubtedly crazy.
He woke at 5 a.m., to get to 6 a.m. Iowa football strength and conditioning sessions. After two hours, Linderbaum was off to summer classes at the University of Iowa. When those ended, he went to either baseball practice or games back in Solon. On days of a road doubleheader, he might not return home until 11 p.m. It was then time to catch a few hours of sleep before restarting the process the next morning.
“It is nice to focus on one sport,” Linderbaum said. “In high school, I was focusing on four, so (now with just football), you see improvements, you start picking things up faster and it has been great. I have had great senior leadership and they have been helping me out.”
Having been raised so close to Kinnick Stadium, Linderbaum said it was a slam dunk becoming a Hawkeye once Iowa offered a scholarship.
“I had an idea I was going to go here,” Linderbaum said. “There wasn’t a school competing with Iowa.”
Solon native Ed Donovan lettered for Hawkeye football from 1973-75. Since then, fellow Spartans-turned-Hawkeye lettermen include Collin Sleeper (2011-12), James Morris (2010-13), Marshall Koehn (2014-15), and Dalton Ferguson (currently a starter at offensive right guard).
Linderbaum played during a season-opening 33-7 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 1. Because of the development of senior defensive tackles Sam Brincks and Matt Nelson and juniors Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff, it looks as though the Hawkeyes will be able to preserve Linderbaum’s redshirt.
“That would be great by me,” Ferentz said. “In the preseason, one of our concerns was our depth at defensive tackle. I saw a scenario where (Tyler) might realistically be in our rotation. The good news is that some of the older guys have done a good job stepping forward.”
Ferentz describes Linderbaum as hard-nosed, tough, serious, focused, and mature for his age (he turned 18 on April 7). Oh yeah, and competitive. That brings us back to the outburst at ping pong.
“I was getting robbed,” Linderbaum said. “My uncle and dad were the referees and they weren’t doing a good job, that’s for sure.”