It was a pretty big day for the University of Iowa’s football team as junior offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs was named the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year by the Big Ten Conference. Wirfs became the first Hawkeye to earn the award since Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff back in 2014. Scherff went on to be a first round draft pick (#5 overall) by the Washington Redskins.
As a prep wrestler for Mount Vernon high school Wirfs was a 2017 state champion at heavyweight, defeating future UNI wrestler John McConkey of Atlantic in the finals.
Our Interview with Wirfs after he won his 2017 state title
Like the previous Hawkeye to win the award, Wirfs is a projected first round draft pick for this spring’s NFL draft. In fact CBS Sports has him listed as the seventh player coming off the board.
And while Wirfs is receiving the lion’s share of the attention for his accomplishments it shouldn’t be overlooked that another former wrestler, Solon prep standout Tyler Linderbaum was also recognized earning honorable mention conference honors. Linderbaum was a multi-time state medalist for Solon and originally commited to the Hawkeyes as a defensive lineman prospect before making the move to offense. As a redshirt freshman Linderbaum started every game at Center for the Hawkeyes.
Press release from the University of Iowa
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa junior offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs has been named Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten Conference. Wirfs was named first-team All-Big Ten by league coaches and media. Offensive All-Big Ten teams, along with individual award winners, were announced by the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday.
In addition to Wirfs on the first offensive unit, junior tackle Alaric Jackson was a third team selection by coaches and media. Junior wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and freshman center Tyler Linderbaum received honorable mention recognition by coaches and media. Along with earning the Sportsmanship Award, senior quarterback Nate Stanley was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by conference coaches.
Wirfs is the first Hawkeye to earn the offensive lineman award since Brandon Scherff in 2014. The award for offensive line play was first presented in 1984, with Wirfs being the eighth Hawkeye to earn the honor.
Wirfs, who attended Mount Vernon, Iowa, High School, started nine games at right tackle and three at left tackle. He has 32 career starts in three seasons. He was one of six semifinalists for the 2019 Outland Trophy. He earned honorable mention honors in 2018, and in 2017 was the first true freshman to start at tackle under head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Jackson, a native of Detroit (Renaissance High School), earned third team honors after being a second team selection a year ago. Jackson started nine games at left tackle, missing three games because of injury. He has 33 career starts, all at left tackle. Jackson was a preseason candidate for the Outland Trophy.
Linderbaum earns his first all-conference recognition after starting all 12 games at center. The Solon, Iowa (Solon High School) native played on the defensive line as a true freshman before moving to offense during bowl prep a year ago.
Smith-Marsette is recognized for the second straight season, as he earned the Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year honor in 2018. Smith-Marsette is a native of Newark, New Jersey (Weequahic High School). He led Iowa with 676 receiving yards on 42 receptions. Smith-Marsette scored four receiving touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, and one touchdown via a 95-yard kickoff return in Iowa’s win at Nebraska.
Smith-Marsette ranks 20th in career all-purpose yards (2,631) in three seasons. He has amazed 1,224 receiving yards, 1,202 yards on kickoff returns, and 205 rushing yards, scoring 12 total touchdowns. This season he is averaging 16.1 yards on 42 receptions, 25.8 yards on 14 kickoff returns, and 10.3 yards on nine rushing attempts.
Stanley, a native of Menomonie, Wisconsin (Menomonie High School), started all 12 games in 2019 and all 38 games over the past three seasons as Iowa has posted a 26-12 record. Stanley passed for more than 2,700 yards with 14 touchdowns this season. He ranks second in career passing touchdowns (66) and pass attempts (1,128), and third in completions (655), passing yards (8,089), and total offense (7,993).
Iowa (9-3 overall, 6-3 Big Ten) is ranked 16th in the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings, 18th by The Associated Press and 19th in the coaches poll. The Hawkeyes are bowl eligible for the 18th time in the last 19 seasons. Iowa’s bowl destination and opponent will be announced Sunday.