Mark Kallenberger a versatile piece on Iowa’s offensive line

The junior filled in for Coy Cronk at right tackle last week after Cronk was ruled out.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa running back Mekhi Sargent and offensive lineman Mark Kallenberger celebrate Sargent’s touchdown during the fourth quarter of the Iowa football game against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 26-20.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa offensive lineman Mark Kallenberger is used to taking on different assignments up front for the Hawkeyes, and that’s what he did in Week 3 against Michigan State.

The junior saw playing time at both right and left guard at times last season. Though Kallenberger was listed as the second-string right guard before the game, he ended up starting at right tackle because right tackle Coy Cronk and right guard Kyler Schott were ruled out for the day.

It was Kallenberger’s first career start at right tackle. That didn’t hinder Iowa’s game plan, as the Hawkeyes had 226 yards on the grounds and 179 yards in the air to roll past the Spartans, 49-7.

“Yeah, it’s kind of representative of the way the things have been the last two years,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We have had a lot of movement with our offensive line. So that’s continued. I thought he did a really nice job the other day stepping in. Some guys have that ability, some don’t. We’ve moved him around basically everywhere but center. It doesn’t seem to affect him an awful lot. I thought he did a good job last week of getting ready, took advantage of every day in practice, and went out and played a good game, and we look forward for more of the same this week as well.”

Last season, Kallenberger started four games at right guard and one game at left guard. He started on the left side in the Holiday Bowl against USC and played every snap in the 49-24 win.

The start on Saturday was his first of the season at any position. Kallenberger had rotated in at right tackle at times in Iowa’s loss to Northwestern.

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“I’ve just been trying to work on my technique every day, whether it be run blocking or pass blocking there’s always something that can be worked on,” Kallenberger said. “There’s always more stuff that can be built on and just make myself as good of a player as I can. Obviously, I’ve switched from guard, tackle, left side, right side, so just trying to bring a better mental focus to practice, to games.”

Adjusting to new spots on the offensive line isn’t easy, and it took Kallenberger some adjusting to do in his head. But he has gotten used to it.

“When I first started it was last year and it really confused me going from left side to right side,” Kallenberger said. “In practice I would step the wrong way on a play, just because I’m so focused in I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m at left tackle,’ but really I was at right guard. So, there’s a whole lot of extra focus that it takes, and it really just comes to being prepared for practice.”

Starting at tackle isn’t the only new thing Kallenberger has done this season. The Bettendorf, Iowa, native is one of the few white members of the Hawkeye football team that have taken a knee during the national anthem.

Kallenberger said after hearing from his roommates, one of whom is running back Mekhi Sargent, he decided to take a knee in an effort to bring awareness to ongoing efforts for racial justice.

“I’ve seen some stuff from those guys,” Kallenberger said. “Things aren’t right in the moment right now. I have someone back home from Davenport … he’s a really good family friend of ours, he’s like a brother to me. He grew up in kind of a crappy area, and we kind of brought him along into our family. So, it’s guys like that, where I’ve seen them struggle so much throughout the years, that I take it upon myself to take a knee.”