Once arriving on campus in Fayette in the fall of 2021, former Anamosa High School two-time first-team All-State football standout Connor Andresen, one of the Raiders’ all-time greatest offensive linemen not named Marshal Yanda, went to work looking for a starting spot with the Division-II Upper Iowa football team as a true freshman.
Andresen was quickly working his way up the depth chart during fall camp, too, but in the end Peacock coaches thought it would be best if Andresen redshirted.
While the Anamosa star wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, Andresen quickly came to realize it was probably the best thing for him.
“I was getting reps in with the 2’s on the offensive line and was moving my way up the depth chart during fall workouts my first year in 2021,” said Andresen, who has worked his way into becoming one of Upper Iowa’s top offensive linemen in 2022, playing in 10 of the Peacocks’ 11 games this season, with only an ankle injury forcing him to sit out the Oct. 29, contest against Wayne State.
“When I look back at the redshirt season in 2021 now, it was definitely the best thing for me. I lifted four times a week and played as an offensive lineman on the scout team, and that made me a much better player going against our starters on defense. Our defensive line was one of the best in the conference in 2021 and they really made me work and opened my eyes as to what playing at this level is all about.”
Upper Iowa coaches took notice of Andresen’s work in his redshirt 2021 season, and he entered camp this past summer as the Peacock’s back-up center.
He didn’t stay a back-up for very long.
“I actually moved to left guard and worked my way into the starting line-up there,” he said. “Then our starting center got hurt and I moved back to that position during the season. Then when he came back, I moved to right guard. I’ve bounced around all over the offensive line this season and have learned what it takes to get the job done at each spot. Playing center or guard, it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever the team needs me to do and whatever keeps me on the field.”
Upper Iowa coaches had Andresen pegged as a center from the moment he arrived on campus in 2021, a position he had never played during his days in Anamosa.
“I pretty much figured that was a move I was going to have to make when I came here,” Andresen said. “I’m just not big enough to play tackle at this level, it was always going to be center or guard.”
The adjustment to playing at the D-II has been quick for the former Raider star, too.
“Really, it’s been a pretty smooth transition going from Anamosa to Upper Iowa,” he said. “That redshirt year no doubt really helped me and got me ready for spring ball this year. I have noticed I can’t put most guys on the ground like I could in high school, but for the most part I think I belong at this level..”
While the Upper Iowa football team struggled record-wise this past fall, wrapping their season Saturday, Nov. 12, with a 50-6 loss hosting Sioux Falls closing a 1-10 campaign, Andresen knows there will be better days ahead.
“I was able to start every game this season other than the one I missed with the ankle injury,” he said. “And I also didn’t give up many quarterback sacks this year either. I’m proud of that. Each and every game I focus on what my job is, and that is to protect our quarterback and help our offense.
“We had a young team this year so we knew, even before the season started, that this was going to be a rebuilding year for Upper Iowa football, and it pretty much was exactly that. Our offense starts with the run game and then we switch to a lot of play-action stuff after that setting up our passing game. We struggled putting a lot of points up on the board this season, but with everyone we have coming back and another year in this system, we’re going to be a lot better in 2023.”
Andresen, an Agriculture Business Major, has some goals for himself in the years to come with the Peacock program, too.
“I would like to be an All-Conference lineman next season and help this program start winning again,” he said. “I’ve also been hearing that we may be switching conferences soon too. That could make things interesting. We could be facing a lot of new teams.”
Upper Iowa is currently a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
“Overall, I think things have gone pretty much to plan for me over the last two years here at Upper Iowa,” Andresen said. “My health has been pretty good other than that sprained ankle I had vs. Minot State on Oct. 22, but I was able to come back pretty quickly from that.
“The plan now is to get back to work in the weight room, get bigger and stronger in the off-season and help this program win some more football games.”