By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Tyler Linderbaum and Levi Duwa are switching spots on the Iowa football team.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed on Wednesday that both players are changing positions during bowl prep.
“(Linderbaum has) really done a nice job,” Ferentz said. “He started that a couple weeks back, and he really doesn't know everything yet, obviously, and there's a lot you learn, but he's off to a really good start, and I think the toughest part about it is now we're taking a good player off our defense, but just kind of felt like that was something we had to address going in before we got to January.”
Linderbaum started his career at defensive tackle and now has moved to center while Duwa is back at defensive tackle after spending a year at center.
Linderbaum, a native of Solon, played both offensive and defensive line in high school and was named the Iowa High School Male Athlete of the Year as a senior. He also participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Linderbaum also starred in baseball, track and field and wreslting at Solon High School.
Duwa, a native of Kalona, earned first-team all-state honors as a senior despite missing half the season due to injury.
Ferentz indicated that the 6-foot-3, 270-pound Duwa seemed more comfortable on defense.
“I don't know if natural is the right word but (some guys) are more instinctive or play faster at certain positions,” Ferentz said. “Playing defense was a little different than offense. You've got to think on both sides of the ball, but it just seems like he's a little bit more aggressive and natural in his play, if you will, on the defensive side.”
Ferentz also said that sophomore Austin Schulte has switched from defensive line to offensive line and that redshirt freshman Henry Marchese has switched from receiver to safety.
Praise for the QB: Ferentz dished out high praise for three-star quarterback Alex Padilla.
Padilla, a native of Greenwood Village, Co., is the lone quarterback signee in Iowa’s 2019 class.
Padilla guided his Cherry Creek High School team to the state finals as a senior, which is just one of the many things that stand out to Ferentz.
“First thing is he can take a snap under center,” Ferentz said. “We don't have to teach him that, which that sounds pretty elementary, but not many guys can take snaps anymore. Not many centers can snap to a guy under center. So it's kind of interesting.
“He's just a really good player. He played on a really good football team. Outstanding coaching staff there, really impressive. I think he's got a real presence to him, plus his dad was a center. I'm partial to centers; you guys know that. So that was one more point in his favor.
“But I just think the guy, he's a winner. He's what a quarterback should be. He's pretty smooth with what he does. I think he's pretty nifty. There's a guy in the Big Ten he kind of reminds me of that we played against this year that I think is a really good player. So time will tell, but I think everything that we're hoping for we saw in him, and we're thrilled he's with us.”
Searching far and wide: Iowa’s 2019 recruiting class features 20 players from 11 different states.
The class includes one player from Alabama, one from Colorado, two from Florida, one from Georgia, four from Illinois, one from Indiana, five from Iowa, two from Michigan, one from Missouri, one from Ohio and one from Wisconsin.
Ferentz said that while being able to recruit all of his players from within a stone’s throw of Iowa City is ideal, it is not realistic.
“In a perfect world if we could get everybody from within five hours, that would be perfect,” Ferentz said. “But it would probably mean we're also in Columbus, Ohio, and we're not. So just population wise that's probably not realistic, but that's certainly where we'd like to be strong and start.
“But the reality is that we have to spread out, and I think we have to do a good job in other areas, and I really feel good at this point basically about the job that we did in outlying areas. We did our homework really well.
“(Running backs coach) Derrick (Foster) is a good example with Shadrick Byrd. He had a relationship very indirectly, same barber shop as I understand it. It's amazing how that worked. But I think the biggest thing, the further away you get, if you don't know as much about a prospect, you're rolling the dice.”
Better than Ezra: Not only was the Holstein, Iowa native Ezra Miller the first player to commit to Iowa’s 2019 recruiting class, he also set an unofficial record for visits to Iowa.
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Miller made nearly 30 unofficial visits to Iowa after making a verbal commitment to the Hawkeyes in April of 2017.
Besides his size and enthusiasm, Miller’s work ethic is what ultimately stood out to the Iowa coaching staff.
“Yeah, that's easily a record,” Ferentz said. “But I did tell him the visit I'm looking forward to the most is in January when he shows up here for class. We have six guys coming early, and Erza is one of those guys. He's a delightful young guy. He's got a great attitude, very positive.
“It's hard for him not to stand out a little bit with his size. But he's just got a great attitude. He's worked hard in camp. We saw a real jump. He came back in camp again last year, which tells you a little bit about him, too, but he's got a good attitude. He works hard, and he's just scratching the surface, so we're eager to get him here.”
Miller also is one of six players from Iowa’s class that plans to enroll in school in January.
Ferentz said that he is all for early enrollment as long as it’s the right situation for the players involved.
“I'm for it under two conditions: First of all, it's got to be their idea and not our idea,” Ferentz said. “We don't push it on guys because we did have a bad outcome, I'm probably going back eight or ten years ago where a guy came out here and pretty much sat in his room and really missed his girlfriend, did poor in school and that was a really bad combination. If a guy is not ready to leave high school, it's a really bad idea and ready for the right reasons.
“So I think that's it. And then the other part is you'd like to think they're going to be pretty solid academically, but the university is pretty stringent about who can get in at midterm, so usually it's not an issue, but again, I think we have to do a good job as a staff and our team has to do a good job making sure we remember these guys aren't with their class, and they're starting new just like the freshmen did last June. It's still a different level to be at, so we've really got to make sure we're interactive with them and they don't get left behind or feel like they're left behind.”