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Improvement is all Hawkeyes' Linderbaum wants
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IOWA FOOTBALL

Improvement is all Hawkeyes' Linderbaum wants

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Tyler Linderbaum didn’t give it a first thought, much less a second one.

He didn’t even seek any feedback from the NFL about where he might fit in this year’s draft class if he had chosen to forgo his final two years of eligibility and declare for a draft that begins Thursday.

He said there wasn’t a need.

The All-American anchor of the University of Iowa offensive line is right where he wants to be, playing center for the Hawkeyes and working to improve with the rest of a relatively young line.

"I didn’t give leaving much consideration at all. I knew I wanted to come back for sure another year and possibly two," Linderbaum said Tuesday, fielding questions for the first time since reaching that conclusion. "I wanted to compete with my buddies. I have a lot more to do, a lot more to improve on. There was not much discussion. I was coming back for sure."

Three years into his college career and just his second at center after lining up on the defensive line while redshirting in 2018, Linderbaum offered some insight into his thoughts on the matter.

"This is a tough place to leave and I’m still young. I have a lot more work to do," said Linderbaum, who grew up about a 15-minute drive from Kinnick Stadium in Solon, Iowa.

That work has continued this spring.

Linderbaum and the Hawkeyes will complete a series of 15 practices with a public workout at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.

The spring has provided Linderbaum with an opportunity to work on a little bit of everything.

"There are always things to work on, every day," Linderbaum said. "Pass (protection), run blocking, just understanding the game. This game is changing and there are more things to learn. There is always something I’m trying to learn and get better at."

This spring, Linderbaum is learning to work with new personnel as well. Iowa must replace four offensive linemen with starting experience from last year’s 6-2 team —  tackles Alaric Jackson and Coy Cronk, tackle and guard Mark Kallenberger and guard Cole Banwart.

The Hawkeyes do return some starting experience as well in guards Kyler Schott and Cody Ince, both honorable mention All-Big Ten picks last season, and Jack Plumb, a two-game starter last season at tackle.

Ince has been sidelined by an injury this spring but is expected back in the fall.

That is providing additional practice reps for returning sophomore letterwinners Justin Britt and Nick DeJong as well as redshirt freshmen Tyler Elsbury, Mason Richman and Josh Volk and sophomore Tyler Endres, a former Northeast prep.

"We have some good young guys. I’m just trying to get us to be more consistent, put guys on the line in better positions," Linderbaum said. "I want us to be as prepared as possible."

The group is also acclimating itself to a new position coach.

George Barnett joined the Hawkeye staff this spring from Tulane, where he had joined the staff in December after spending the past seven years at Miami (Ohio).

He replaces offensive line coach Tim Polasek, who left for an offensive coordinator’s position at Wyoming in February.

Linderbaum described Barnett a little more laid back, a little less fiery than Polasek in terms of coaching style, but holding the same high level of expectations that Iowa linemen are accustomed to upholding.

"They’re both unique. Every coach has his own way," Linderbaum said.

Barnett is also letting Linderbaum lead.

Plumb said Tuesday that Linderbaum will speak up during position group sessions.

"He’ll point something out that coach Barnett doesn’t see," Plumb said. "In the huddle, too, he’s always talking about little things, the alignment of the defense, that type of thing, to help us get an edge pre-snap."

Schott suggested at the roof of it all is Linderbaum’s personality.

"Whether it’s a board game or football, the guy hates losing," Schott said. "He has to get better every day."

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