The list is expansive, long with names of former and current Iowa offensive lineman who have made an impression beyond their peers.
Robert Gallery. Marshall Yanda. Bryan Bulaga. Riley Reiff. Brandon Scherff. Iowa is one of the most consistent producers of quality blockers.
What about Austin Blythe? Will his name eventually be added to that list?
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound lineman is heading into the 2014 campaign as a three-year starter, last season starting all 13 games at center while starting nine games in 2012 at right guard. Last year’s collection of starting linemen came off a sluggish 4-8 mark in 2012, yet allowed only 15 sacks en route to an 8-5 record. Blythe anchored under center.
With four starters returning in front of quarterback Jake Rudock — redshirt freshman Sean Welsh is the frontrunner for the fifth spot at left guard — Iowa boasts one of the most talents lines in the Big Ten and perhaps the nation.
“I think we can be as good as we want to be,” Blythe said Monday. “We need to start camp off on the right foot, gain a better understanding of our offense and each other.”
Scherff and Blythe are the headliners, but junior Jordan Walsh and senior Andrew Donnal have slowly but surely become stalwarts for the Black and Gold as well.
There are 20 linemen on the roster.
“I feel really good about the four guys that played up front,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “… So the big question now is what do we do after that? What we do for (left guard) and then develop some depth at that position.”
Like Scherff, Blythe may be a highly touted NFL prospect a year from now following a bowl berth.
Whatever happens, the Williamsburg native is sure of why Iowa turns out a bevy of offensive linemen seemingly season after season.
“It’s the kind of guys we recruit here and the coaching we receive,” Blythe said. “That’s a huge testament to why the offensive line has succeeded in this program.
“I don’t think there’s really one person that grabs the guys in the room and brings them along. I think it’s a collective effort. That’s something coach Ferentz wants us to do: understand we’re a unit and we’re only going to be good as a unit together.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football