Iowa recruit Tyler Linderbaum reacts to his dominant performance over Solon's rival, Regina. Matt Bain/Press-Citizen
SOLON, Ia. — Here’s how Friday night’s rivalry game between eastern Iowa giants Solon and Regina began …
Regina lined up for the first play from its 32-yard line in the pistol formation. The center snapped the ball to his quarterback and was immediately shoved back by Solon’s nose tackle. The nose tackle then flung the center aside, grabbed Regina’s running back and threw him to the ground for a 2-yard loss.
That nose tackle’s name? Tyler Linderbaum, the three-star, Class of 2018 Hawkeye.
"We were pretty fortunate that he’s on our side," Solon coach Kevin Miller said after the game. "He’s a warrior. He plays with, not only great technique and great fundamentals, but he’s nasty. He’s tough and he sets the tone for us."
Linderbaum’s dominant play set the tone for a 33-0 Solon win against a team that'd beaten it in six of their past seven meetings. It also set the tone for a performance those in eastern Iowa have come to expect from the four-sport, 6-foot-2, 270-pound athlete.
Iowa recruit Tyler Linderbaum records big tackle for loss on first play of game against Regina. Matthew Bain
With Iowa assistant defensive line coach Kelvin Bell watching from the sidelines, Linderbaum notched two tackles for loss, a sack, three more tackles, a nearly deflected punt and a blocked punt (which he recovered).
He displayed the power and versatility that drew Bell's recruiting interest in the first place.
Perhaps Linderbaum’s most impressive display of power came in the second quarter.
On a second-and-10, Regina handed the ball to Isaac Vollstedt, a 6-foot, 200-pound running back with a Northwest Missouri State offer and FCS interest. He ran for 160 yards in Week 1.
Linderbaum pushed off the center and reached out with his left arm to grab Vollstedt — running full speed. He then hooked his right arm around Vollstedt and wrestled him down at the line of scrimmage for a gain of zero.
Iowa recruit Tyler Linderbaum stuffs running back at line of scrimmage. Matthew Bain
On the other side of the ball, Linderbaum (who plays center) and Solon’s offensive line paved the way for first-time starter Hunter Kula — a 5-foot-5, 150-pound speedster. Kula poked a score through from 18 yards out in the first quarter, but his big highlight came on a 79-yard score in the second.
And Linderbaum had a big hand in that.
The play looked dead at the line. Kula ran into a mess of bodies … before squeezing through a tiny hole Linderbaum created right in the center. Linderbaum sprinted down the field to follow Kula and congratulate him in the end zone.
"Everyone played a huge part on that — the O-line," Linderbaum said of the play. "And Kula had a nice seam and ran it for 79 yards.
"I try to play a big part in our team’s success, and everyone did a great job tonight. That’s why it was 33-0."
Every time Solon’s opponent lines up for a punt, Linderbaum’s job is to blast through any blocker and try to get a hand on the ball.
He nearly blocked a Regina punt in the third, forcing just a 3-yard boot.
He did block a Regina punt in the fourth — and he recovered the loose ball.
Linderbaum is also on Solon’s hands team. Regina opened the second half with an onside kick attempt, and the Spartans immense, versatile lineman fell on it.
"Tyler’s a difference-maker," Miller said. "That’s why he’s been offered by Iowa and is committed to Iowa."
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.