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NFL Draft

Who Are The Iowa Hawkeyes?

  • The Draft Network
  • October 7, 2021
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A program that dates back to the presidential tenure of Grover Cleveland in 1889, the Iowa Hawkeyes’ road to glory has come via the path less traveled compared to its inter-conference foes. A program located in the heart of the country, Iowa has built its foundation focused on consistency, strength, and the development of recruits to fit how they do things. A team known for its interior prowess on both sides of the line, their illustrious history wouldn’t be what it stands for today if it weren’t for the years of dominance by the big uglies up front. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has his team in a spot to compete with the country’s elite, and through five weeks, they’ve possessed all the makings of a College Football Playoff-bound unit.

The least sexy program arguably in all of college football, Iowa approaches the game with a throwback type of grit and determination hinged on their ability to wear opposing teams down in the trenches. And while they’re at-times flashy run game will open up a shot downfield, the Hawkeyes’ leading receivers come via their tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Tyler Goodson, who, in turn, has become one of the more unheralded athletes in all of college football. But, in a day in age where teams deploy the Air-Raid offense at an all-time high with aerial attacks taking over the game of football, Iowa makes their namesake on the ground, and makes you know about it. 

It starts and stops with Tyler Linderbaum.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Linderbaum embarrass defenders so far this season, I’m not going to hassle you, but do yourself a favor and turn on his film. Next in line in the Hawkeyes’ pipeline of dominant offensive lineman, Linderbaum is everything scouts look for in a centerpiece of an offense. Excellent in both the run and pass games with the ability to get out in space, he’ll be a day-one selection next spring and currently finds himself slotted No. 15 on our TDN100 2022 Big Board.

As you take a glance at Iowa’s roster, the stars, literally, are absent. You won’t find a slew of former highly-touted 5- or 4-star recruits, as the Hawkeyes have, understandably, had trouble drawing the attention of elite prep athletes over the years, but it’s the buy-in from the athletes they do get signatures from that has anointed Iowa as the No. 3 overall team in college football.

The word “process” is overused in the sports landscape, but when you pull out the microscope on the Hawkeyes, their innate ability to consistently find athletes willing to fit individual roles while trusting Ferentz to lead them to hardware has placed their program in ideal positions to dominate the Big Ten West. And although they lack in prestige compared to Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, when you line up, stars are pushed under the rug, and when it’s scaled down to player versus player, Iowa matchups up as good as any to college football’s most star-studded rosters.

Saturday presents an entirely different beast for Ferentz’s group. A win against the No. 4-ranked Nittany Lions will go a long way toward Iowa placing their foot on the neck of the CFP committee demanding a spot in the final four come January. While early-season wins against inferior opponents in Kent State and Colorado State have muddied their resume compared to impressive victories over Iowa State and a 37-point blowout of Maryland, for a team as well-rounded as any on both sides of the football who bring their lunch pail to work each week, it’s time the Iowa Hawkeyes earn the respect they deserve.

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