By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Tristan Wirfs could be a senior on the Iowa football team, or even a redshirt junior if he were anything close to normal.
But Wirfs is far from normal.
Iowa fans, and those who grew up with Wirfs in Mount Vernon, have realized that for quite some time, but now the folks in Tampa Bay, and the entire nation for that matter, are learning that Wirfs is special.
To say that Wirfs held his own against Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro defensive end Joey Bosa in this past Sunday’s game would be understatement.
Wirfs, from his right tackle position, repeatedly got the better of Bosa, and that allowed for Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady to throw five touchdown passes during a 38-31 come-from-behind victory.
Wirfs vs. Bosa from Week 4. Can’t say enough good things about the rookie’s performance, even with Bosa nursing a triceps injury. Never saw Bosa on the ground this much.
(The two reps Bosa won vs. Wirfs are at the end of this reel) pic.twitter.com/kwLxtUT6FO
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 5, 2020
“He’s a good player, and he’s gonna be a great player,” Bosa said of Wirfs to Daniel Popper of the Athletic.
Three offensive tackles were selected before Wirfs in the 2020 NFL Draft, but Wirfs, with four games under his belt, is currently grading higher than all three according to the most recent PFF rankings.
Wirfs, who was picked 13th overall by Tampa Bay, has a score of 73.7, while Mekhi Becton, the 11th pick overall by the New York Jets, has a score of 72.6.
Jedrick Wills, the 10th pick overall by the Cleveland Browns, has a current grade of 63.9, while Andrew Thomas, the fourth pick overall by the New York Giants, has a grade of 53.7.
The 6-foot-5, 320-pounds Wirfs has the daunting task of helping to protect arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history in Tom Brady. That would be a massive responsibility for any offensive lineman, but Wirfs is just 21-years old and not even four years removed from high school.
He has been on a rapid ascent since becoming the first true freshman to start at tackle for Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.
Wirfs was a multi-sport star in high school, and he almost certainly would have been a force in college as a heavyweight wrestler, or as a thrower in track and field.
He was also an accomplished baseball player in high school.
But now Wirfs is focused solely on football and the results have been amazing.
He already has earned financial security for himself, and for his family as a first-round pick. But Wirfs is also just scratching the surface as a player, and as a financial earner.
Wirfs now has the opportunity to help those who have helped him along the way, namely his mother, Sarah Wirfs.
Tristan Wirfs often talked about his mother while playing for Iowa, and about how she sacrificed for him and worked countless hours to make his life better.
Wirfs has reached the pinnacle of football, and is more than holding his own as a rookie right tackle in the NFL.
There will be some growing pains and setbacks along the way because that goes with the territory.
But Wirfs is clearly up to the task.
He is blessed with some incredible physical gifts, including size, strength and finesse, and is working hard to maximize his talent while helping to protect a legend at quarterback.
Wirfs just keeps getting better, and so does his story.