Meet the state's next wave of top linemen

Meet the state's next wave of top linemen


Meet the state's next wave of top linemen


Iowa City Regina's Jared Brinkman makes a tackle against Cascade last year.

Iowa City Regina’s Jared Brinkman makes a tackle against Cascade last year.

Ames offensive lineman Colin Newell (75) pushes Ankeny Centennial's Tanner Morgan (5) back Friday Aug. 28, 2015 during their season opener in Ankeny.

Ames offensive lineman Colin Newell (75) pushes Ankeny Centennial’s Tanner Morgan (5) back Friday Aug. 28, 2015 during their season opener in Ankeny.

Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers fill the Friday night box scores with yards and touchdowns.

Defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs have tackle charts, sack lists and interception counts to help measure their performance.

Even kickers and punters have a place in the Iowa high school football record archives.

But there are no statistical metrics to measure the might of an offensive lineman — at least none that the Iowa High School Athletic Association tracks. Nonetheless, from a prep football standpoint, Iowa is perhaps known best for its offensive linemen.

Native Iowans Robert Gallery and Brandon Scherff both won the Outland Trophy before entering the NFL as top-five overall draft picks. The top two players in the state this year, according to — Valley’s John Raridon and Urbandale’s Jake Heinrich — are both offensive linemen.

The Recruiting Trail with Andy Hamilton

Five of the top players on the same list last year made their mark as blockers. And four of the top nine in 2014 were offensive linemen, including Ross Pierschbacher of Cedar Falls, who now starts at guard for Alabama.

More top offensive line prospects are catching the attention of college coaches by flattening prep defenders. Meet the next wave:

Mark Kallenberger, Bettendorf

Kallenberger is a college offensive tackle starter kit. He’s 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds now, but he’ll pack on a few dozen pounds before he steps onto a Division-I field for the first time. Combine his athleticism, long arms and demeanor and he checks off the boxes as a projectable next-level talent.

“I think he’s got a chance to be pretty special before it’s all over,” Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. “A lot of times your great big guys like that don’t move, but he’s got the athleticism to go with it and he’s got a toughness that is kind of that extra intangible.”

Wiley suspects Kallenberger’s nasty side comes from his upbringing as a younger sibling. His older brother, Jack, led Class 4A in sacks last year and plays at Iowa Central now.

Mark Kallenberger is already on Division I radars. The junior picked up his first scholarship offer last weekend from Eastern Michigan. He’s also made trips to Iowa, Iowa State and Wisconsin.

“I think he’s got a great upside with his frame,” Wiley said. “He’s got the rangy, long body type. He’ll get somewhere in college and put on (weight) and he’ll be a guy who weighs 300 pounds.”

Jared Brinkman, Iowa City Regina

The younger sibling thing might play a factor here, too.

Brinkman’s older brother, Jake, is a linebacker at North Dakota State. In his four years at Iowa City Regina, the Regals went 55-1 and claimed four state championships.

Marv Cook’s program is cranking out top high school players at an assembly-line clip, perhaps none better than the younger Brinkman.

“He’s phenomenal,” Cook said. “We’ve had a lot of really, really good players and … he’s as good as it gets for us. He’s a phenomenal leverage player and a true difference maker. I think he’s the real deal. I think he has a chance to play at a super high level.”

Brinkman plays center and defensive tackle for the Regals. Cook pictures the 6-1, 255-pound junior as a center in college.

“He’s not the 6-5, 275 guy,” Cook said. “But to me, you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who can play better.”

Cook said Brinkman has heard from Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and North Dakota State.

“I think if he gets on (an FBS) campus, he plays,” Cook said. “He’s an incredibly gifted, athletic guy.”

 Colin Newell, Ames

Newell earned all-district honors last year as a sophomore and picked up a scholarship offer from Iowa State shortly after the season.

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound offensive tackle went to camps this summer at Iowa, Iowa State and Nebraska.

College football coaches like offensive linemen who wrestled in high school. They have an understanding of leverage, balance and how to use their hands. Newell won 32 matches as a sophomore and came within a victory of earning medalist status at the state wrestling meet.

Alex Kleinow, Iowa City West

Kleinow falls into the same category as Kallenberger is a tall, projectable tackle prospect. The junior picked up an offer this summer from Iowa State.

“At this stage of development with offensive linemen you first look at does he have the frame to add the weight?” said analyst Allen Trieu, who watched Kleinow this summer at a Minnesota camp. “He’s 6-6, 263. He’s a big, tall kid with length and has plenty of room to add weight. I thought at Minnesota’s camp he moved around well for a guy who’s 6-6. He can bend that big frame and get himself into position to win some leverage battles against shorter guys.

“We watched him on tape and he showed the ability to drive block and block to the whistle and he showed some of that meanness and toughness you like to see out of offensive linemen as well.”

 Andrew Todd, Cedar Rapids Washington

The lone sophomore on this list starts at left tackle for the Warriors. He’s 6-3 and 250 now and his future could hinge on how much more he grows.

“He’s doing well for a sophomore,” Cedar Rapids Washington coach Paul James said. “There’s obviously things he has to work on and he’s getting better every time out, I think. … He’s got good feet and he’s a smart kid and pays close attention when you’re teaching technique. Another thing that’s immeasurable, as a sophomore, he’s a good leader.”

Todd has played well enough to catch the attention of recruiting analysts.

“At this stage, it’s kind of early, but we’ve seen enough to at least say this guy is a prospect,” Trieu said. “We’re not quite sure what level (he’ll play at) yet, but he’s definitely got enough to him at this moment to warrant having a profile and be a kid we track over the next couple years.”


More USA TODAY High School Sports