By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Tyler Linderbaum wasn’t your typical high school football recruit.
He didn’t pay any attention to where he was ranked as a prospect, or to how many stars he had next to his name.
He didn’t attend any of the showcase camps in the spring or summer because he was too busy being a multi-sport athlete at Solon High School.
And he didn’t really care if he had a bunch of scholarship offers as long as he had the one that he coveted from the Iowa Hawkeyes.
That dream offer came during Linderbaum’s junior year of high school, and now three years later, Linderbaum is Iowa’s starting center as a redshirt freshman and is preparing to face the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday in Madison, Wis.
He also is proof that you don’t have to be consumed by the recruiting process, or give up playing other sports in high school, to achieve your goals.
“I guess as a kid, I didn’t really think about what college I was going to come to or stuff like that,” Linderbaum said Tuesday. “I was just always an Iowa fan.
“I didn’t touch those rankings. I didn’t really care because it’s someone’s opinion. Kids get caught up in that too much these days; Oh, am I a three-star, a four-star?
Linderbaum, for the record, was a three-star recruit, according to Rivals, and was also a U.S. Army All-American as a senior in high school.
Iowa State was the first school to offer Linderbaum a scholarship, followed shortly by Iowa.
Those would prove to be his only two scholarship offers for reasons that Linderbaum doesn’t really know for sure, or care about, although, his life-long allegiance to Iowa might have been a factor.
Linderbaum appreciated the offer from Iowa State, which came during his junior year, but once Iowa had offered, the Cyclones didn’t stand a chance.
Linderbaum also had no interest in letting the recruiting process drag on because he no interest in pushing his brand.
He was more interested in playing sports year-around and having fun as a high school kid.
“I was just playing sports I loved,” Linderbaum said.
In addition to being a star two-way lineman in football, Linderbaum was also a standout heavyweight wrestler, a star thrower in track field and a key member of the baseball team in high school.
In fact, he was so committed to the Solon baseball team that he chose to play as a senior despite having to juggle his summer workout schedule as an incoming Iowa football recruit.
His dedication and commitment made an impression on Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, so in some ways, Linderbaum helped his stock rise as a football recruit without even having tried.
There is nothing wrong with kids who embrace the recruiting process and work hard to push their brand on social media.
To each his own.
That just wasn’t Linderbaum’s thing, and yet, he still achieved his goal of earning a football scholarship to Iowa.
“That’s not a bad thing to do,” Linderbaum said of embracing the recruiting process. “These kids are trying to earn scholarships and are trying to pay for their school, and just trying to go to the school they want to.
“So these camps are, obviously, a good thing for the kids. But that was something I really didn’t have time for, I guess.”
Linderbaum started in football for the Solon varsity team as a sophomore, and that is also when he started to show a little interest in the recruiting process, thanks to some encouragement from the Solon coaches, who convinced him to attend one of Iowa’s summer camps.
Unlike some of his current Iowa teammates, including defensive back Riley Moss, whose life-long goal apparently was to play football for Iowa, Linderbaum was too busy playing multiple sports in high school to ever really focus on his future in football.
“I was just talking about this with someone, I think it was Riley Moss, his dream was to come here and play football, but I was just in all these different sports where really what I would do in college wasn’t on my mind,” Linderbaum said. “I think once I got to probably my sophomore year my coach told me I should probably go to football camps and stuff like and I started to get more interest.”
There is no right or wrong way to be recruited as long as you abide by the rules.
It’s just kind of refreshing to have somebody like Linderbaum who didn’t need his ego stroked by the recruiting process.
He didn’t need college football coaches telling him how good he was because he was more interested in helping his high school teams conquer the moment.
Of course, you can do both. You can be heavily involved with the recruiting process and still be dedicated to your high school teams.
But Linderbaum wasn’t interested in being recruited by any school besides Iowa.
He achieved his dream on his terms.