One-on-one with Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum

Daily Iowan Sports Editor Austin Hanson talked to Linderbaum at an Iowa football media availability session on Nov. 30.


Grace Smith

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras lines up behind center Tyler Linderbaum during a football game between No. 16 Iowa and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Petras replaced quarterback Alex Padilla at the start of third quarter. The Hawkeyes defeated the Corn Huskers, 28-21.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

The Daily Iowan: So, the first question I have for you is this: Obviously, everyone wants to push the narrative that the NFL is the dream of all good football players. Was that something you actually dreamt about as a kid? Or was that not your vibe?

Tyler Linderbaum: Obviously, as you get older from high school, getting recruited, coming to college, it has become a goal for me. But growing up, it wasn’t really a goal for me. I’ve been so focused on whatever season I’m in. When I was playing basketball, I wanted to be an NBA player. You know, if I was playing baseball, I wanted to be in the MLB. I kinda fell in love with whatever season I was in. During that season, I didn’t focus on anything else. I only focused on whatever sport I was in. I wouldn’t say playing in the NFL, NBA, MLB was one of my goals. If I was playing that sport that season, I’d say, “Gosh, that’d be cool if I was playing there.”

DI: So, you grew up in Solon. Did you ever dream you’d be playing in the Big Ten Championship Game with the Iowa football team?

Linderbaum: I don’t think I ever dreamt about that. One, I didn’t even know where I was gonna go to college. Obviously, I had the opportunity to come here to Iowa. Once I got here? Absolutely. You know, that was the goal. I thought it would be awesome to play for a Big Ten title. You know, do it for your university. Do it for your players that you’re playing with. When I was younger, I don’t even know that I’d recognize that there was a Big Ten Championship. Obviously, when I got older and into high school and stuff like that, I would watch it, especially in 2015. I remember watching that game. It’s just kinda crazy how things work out. You go from watching that game to playing in it five years later.

DI: Before I ever started watching you play, I hadn’t seen very many centers try to run out and block a defensive end or linebacker on the edge. Do you stretch for that? What’s the mentality there?

Linderbaum: Whatever the coaches want me to do, I’ll try to do it to the best of my ability. Sometimes, going out there and blocking the smaller guys might be a little harder. They’re a little more shifty than I am. But I’m just trying to get the job done for the team.

DI: You ever think that’s a lot to do? Snap it, run out there, try to find the guy, and block them.

RELATED: Will to win: How Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum became the nation’s best center

Linderbaum: I wouldn’t say so. I mean, I played defensive line. So, you gotta run around a little bit. Part of my game is being able to be athletic, being able to move around and block in the second level. So, anytime I get the chance to do so, I like the opportunity.

DI: Is being mobile for a center something you emphasize in your strength and conditioning?

Linderbaum: Obviously, I’m a little undersized, which definitely has to be an advantage for me. I can’t be a fat slob out there. So, I’m gonna use my athletic ability to my advantage. At the end of the day, that’s what I try to use as a separator from all the other people in the country.

DI: Can you talk about your decision to sell T-shirts earlier this season and then donate that money?

Linderbaum: So, the idea came about in class. I was in some class and we had to create a product and stuff like that, then sell it. Then, one of the people in my class decided they were going to donate to the [University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital]. We had ‘baum squad shirts that my family was just selling to family and friends. Like, you know what, let’s talk to my family members that helped me out with this. Let’s try to do something to where all the profits go to the children’s hospital. I didn’t anticipate it getting as big as it did. You know, I think we’re donating $30,000. So, that’s something that’s pretty special. You know, it was something cool that I could do, and you know, just give back to the community. Obviously, the Iowa Wave is very important to Iowa football. You know, the children’s hospital is right there in the middle of our city. So, that’s something that’s pretty cool and something I could do.

DI: Do you have a favorite restaurant here in town? Or a rotation that you go to?

Linderbaum: If I was going to a sit-down restaurant, I’d go to Stella’s. I were to go grab something quick, I’d go to Heirloom Salad Co.

DI: If you had to choose one — black or gold?

Linderbaum: Just to wear or just like as a color?

RELATED: Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year

DI: Whichever you feel like you might prefer in any way, whatsoever.

Linderbaum: I’d go black.

DIGot any in-depth analysis on that?

Linderbaum: I like the look of black better. And gold, maybe? Obviously, they’re better when they’re together. It just has more meaning — Iowa Hawkeyes, obviously. If I had to pick a color, I’d rather wear black than gold.

DI: Alright, last question: When you were sitting at Big Ten Football Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in July, do you think that familiarized you with the atmosphere you’ll face on Saturday at all? Obviously, there’s a big difference between playing and talking.

Linderbaum: I don’t know. I know what it looks like now. Before Big Ten media days, I didn’t know what the stadium even looked like. That’s about the only thing I’m gonna be prepared for. At the end of the day, we’re going there to win a football game. We’re gonna be excited to play. I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of Iowa fans there supporting us. So, we’re gonna be excited.

DI: Awesome, thanks Tyler.

Linderbaum: Yeah, no problem.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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