Taking a look at some of area kids who could have big offseasons of recruitment.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Jaleel Johnson. Carl Davis. Faith Ekakitie. Louis Trinca-Pasat. All successful defensive tackles at Iowa. All players Scout.com's Midwest football recruiting manager Allen Trieu saw play in high school.
And all players who came to his mind Monday when Solon defensive tackle Tyler Linderbaum committed to the Hawkeyes. But not because he plays like them.
"Where those guys were kind of bulls in a china shop," Trieu said, "(Linderbaum) is a little bit more on the athletic side.
"(He does) a lot of things you don’t often see on a defensive tackle’s highlight film."
That's Linderbaum's selling point — his near-absurd agility for his position. You could see it on his 70-yard pick-six against Washington. You could see it on the countless times he'd leap over someone who was trying to cut block him. You could see it when he played wide receiver for Solon's scout team offense this year.
"He’s a kid that, as I watched him, I was surprised he didn’t have more offers," Trieu said. "He’s pretty impressive, moving around.
"If there’s a question about him or people ask, 'Why isn’t he ranked higher, based on his athleticism?' I would say his size is the one thing that I would say is the question mark."
At 6-foot-2 and about 270 pounds, Linderbaum is undersized for a defensive tackle. His athleticism is rare for the interior of the defensive line, though. It's what drew Iowa and Iowa State's attention, and it might have drawn eyeballs from the rest of the Midwest, had Linderbam chosen to extend his recruitment.
247Sports' composite rankings have him at three stars and the fifth-best Class of 2018 prospect in Iowa. Trieu's Scout.com pegs him the class' top defensive tackle prospect in Iowa. Rivals also gives him three stars.
"He gets off the ball extraordinarily well," Solon head coach Kevin Miller said. "He’s got very good lateral movement. He plays with low pad level. But it’s his takeoff — he gets off the football extraordinarily well."
Linderbaum led Solon with seven solo tackles for loss and added three solo sacks and 42.5 tackles. He was named to The Des Moines Register's All-Iowa Class 3A team. He's also a standout wrestler, baseball player and thrower for the Spartans.
"He’s a kid who hates to lose," Miller said. "And so every snap, I think, he takes the approach of, 'I’m going to win this snap.' And when you have a player that plays every snap that way, that’s pretty exceptional. It’s hard to find kids that have that ability to compete at their very best every snap. And if a guy gets the best of him, he tends to take that pretty personally.
"He’s the definition of a football player, you know what I mean? Just a tough, hard-nosed guy that loves to compete."
More on Iowa's Class of 2018 recruits:
- Iowa’s first 2018 recruit Mike Bruner decommits
- Iowa adds physical 2018 running back in Henry Geil
- Iowa getting 'strong tackler' and lifelong Hawkeye in Dillon Doyle
- Hawkeyes add second 2018 commit in offensive lineman Jeff Jenkins
- Iowa lands first 2018 commit in Wisconsin LB Mike Bruner
Linderbaum picked Iowa over offers from Iowa State and Minnesota State-Mankato. He'd also seen interest from Minnesota.
He becomes the fifth Class of 2018 commit for the Hawkeyes. He and Iowa City West linebacker Dillon Doyle are the only defensive recruits so far.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.