Cedar Rapids native Connor Colby exceeding even his expectations
First true freshman to start on the offensive line since Tristan Wirfs in 2017
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Four games into his Iowa football career and Connor Colby is ahead of schedule.
At least his schedule.
The former Cedar Rapids Kennedy standout joined select company this past Saturday when he made his first career start against Colorado State.
Colby replaced injured sophomore Justin Britt at right guard and helped pave the way to a 24-14 victory as fifth-ranked Iowa improve to 4-0 overall.
Asked Tuesday it he was surprised to be playing this much so early in his career, Colby said:
“Yeah, a little bit. I wasn’t expecting this coming in. I was just trying to work hard and work my way up.”
Colby is the first true freshman to start for Iowa on the offensive line since Tristan Wirfs in 2017. Wirfs would go on to become the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year as a junior in 2019 and now starts at right tackle for the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wirfs was also selected by Tampa Bay in the first round of 2020 NFL Draft.
Colby certainly had plenty of hype upon entering college as a four-star recruit with scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Missouri and Iowa State.
But even with all of his accolades, the Iowa coaches made no promises about playing time.
“Honestly, they didn’t really talk much about it,” Colby said. “They didn’t make any promises like that or anything. They just said come in here like everyone and work hard and we’ll see where stuff goes, which everyone is doing.”
Colby wasn’t too thrilled with his performance against Colorado State.
“For me, it wasn’t too hot,” he said without being specific. “I’m just happy that the team got a win. As an o-line we’ve got a lot of things to work on and I feel like we’re taking the right steps.”
Story continues below
One of the first things the 6-foot-6, 298-pound Colby had to work on after enrolling at Iowa last January was his conditioning.
“My whole philosophy after arriving in January I was just trying to get in shape and stuff,” he said. “I had a lot of bad weight coming out of high school. I was just going to come in and work hard and see where it took me.
“When I got here I cut weight right away. I think I lost like ten pounds right away.”
The fact that Colby was made available to the media on Tuesday was something new for Hawkeye football under Kirk Ferentz, who until this season had prohibited true freshman from being interviewed by the media.
Colby seemed a little nervous when he first started answering questions, but he became more relaxed with each question and answer. He even joked about being one of the few players on the team with a mullet.
He also was asked if he still follows the Kennedy football team, which he does.
“I’ve been following them quite a bit,” Colby said. “It’s kind or weird how they’re throwing the ball now. I’m not used to that.”
The Iowa offensive line will face a stiff challenge on Friday against 4-0 Maryland, which has an athletic and aggressive defensive line, and will be playing at home.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday that Britt is practicing this week and should be available for the Maryland game.
Senior guard Kyler Schott is also back in the mix after missing the first two games with a foot injury.
So, it’s uncertain how much Colby will play on Friday, but he is certainly in the mix as Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that there is no guarantee that Iowa will settle on using just five players on the offensive line.
“There’s a lot of things the o-line can work on as a whole,” Colby said. ” Just staying together and communicating and stuff like that. I feel like once we get all that figured out, we’ll be good to go.”
Colby still is adjusting to playing guard after having worked mostly at the tackle position during spring practice.
“Obviously, I’m becoming more comfortable at guard,” Colby said. “During the spring I was at tackle a lot. Coming into guard, it’s lot more challenging because you’ve got a lot less space to work with. But you also usually always have help. So I feel like its good spot to start out at.”