Tyler Linderbaum’s incredible story ready for the next chapter
Solon native will declare for 2022 NFL Draft as fourth-year junior
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz calls them stories and Tyler Linderbaum has one of the best stories to tell.
Lightly recruited out of Solon, and a defensive tackle to start his Iowa football career, Linderbaum switched to center during preparation for the 2019 Outback Bowl, and it ranks as one of the most impactful position switches during Ferentz’s 23 seasons as the Iowa head coach, and that’s saying a lot.
Linderbaum would go on to become a force at center and arguably the top player at his position as a fourth-year junior.
He started 35 consecutive games over the past three seasons, and he won the 2021 Rimington Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate center.
He helped Iowa win 26 games in three seasons, including 10 wins this past season, and in 2019, and he graduated from the University of Iowa in December.
If ever there was an Iowa football player who was ready for the next level despite having eligibility remaining, it’s Linderbaum.
And that’s where he is now headed, to the next level as an almost certain first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
Linderbaum finally made it official on Friday that he would declare for the draft.
It took him maybe longer than some might have expected to announce his decision, and that caused some fans to hope that he might stick around for another season, and hope grew with each day that Linderbaum didn’t make an announcement.
But this decision was really a no-brainer.
Linderbaum will forever cherish his time as an Iowa Hawkeye, and he has memories that will last forever, but he’s ready to move on.
He could stick around for another year and help lead Iowa to another winning season as the nation’s top collegiate center.
But that’s what he just finished doing.
Linderbaum might have decided differently if he were a third-year junior rather than a fourth-year junior, because in this case, one year makes a big difference.
The risk of him getting injured next season isn’t worth taking with so much money on the line as Linderbaum is just a few months from becoming a multi-millionaire.
His incredible college career has run its course, and now it’s time for Linderbaum to change courses.
It’s time for Linderbaum to challenge himself at the highest level.
And it’s time for him to start getting paid for what he does so well.
Linderbaum represents everything that is good about Hawkeye football, from his work ethic to his toughness to his durability.
He never missed a game in each of the past three seasons, and he returned to the Citrus Bowl after having limped off the field with what appeared to be a lower leg injury.
We can only imagine what Linderbaum’s family and close friends were thinking as medical personnel treated him on the field.
Life can be cruel, but fortunately, Linderbaum’s injury wasn’t serious.
It was, however, a reminder of why it would’ve been too risky for Linderbaum to have played another season for Iowa.
Linderbaum made a strong impression on Kirk Ferentz during the summer of 2018 when he chose to play baseball for his high school team while also participating in Iowa’s summer workout program for incoming freshmen.
Linderbaum could’ve easily stopped playing baseball as a high school senior and nobody would’ve questioned his loyalty.
But he wanted to finish what he started with his friends and that says a lot about his character and commitment.
He worked out with Iowa in the morning and spent his afternoons and most evenings playing baseball.
Linderbaum was a multi-sport star in high school and his ascent to stardom at Iowa shows that a kid doesn’t have to specialize in one sport to achieve greatness.
He was blessed with a considerable amount of talent, but it takes more than just talent to achieve what Linderbaum has in football.
It takes dedication, focus, humility and a healthy environment in which to succeed, and, of course, some good luck.
Linderbaum’s story is far from over, but his story is evolving and is ready for the next chapter.