With so much going on in other college sports, it’s easy to forget that spring workouts are starting to ramp up across the country. The Big 12 is no exception there, with multiple teams having already started practices.
As those teams commence their NCAA-sanctioned workouts, each Big 12 squad will try to find answers to its respective questions over the course of about a month.
Here, we’ll try to look into what positions will be up for grabs. Up next are the Iowa State Cyclones, who began practices this week.
Iowa State seems to be on a continually upward trajectory under head coach Matt Campbell, who was close to coaching the Cyclones into the Big 12 championship last season.
Now, Campbell has one of the best returning quarterbacks in the Big 12, and one of the more experienced teams in the conference. Are the Cyclones prepared to take the next step? They do have to figure out some of the pieces of the puzzle, but Iowa State has lately developed a knack for finding players.
PRACTICE BEGINS: TUE, March 12
SPRING GAME: None
LOCATION: Jack Trice Stadium (Ames, IA)
Offensively, the Cyclones are all set up front. They return all five starting offensive linemen from 2018, and probably will have the most seasoned group of “big uglies” in the Big 12 next season. Among them, Julian Good-Jones, Josh Knipfel, and Bryce Meeker will all be seniors, so they project to have a strong year.
Brock Purdy, a freshman sensation a year ago, will be the presumptive starter at quarterback in 2019. There’s little experience to be found behind Purdy, so expect the Cyclones to focus on developing depth this spring.
One key project for offensive staff will be identifying a new go-to running back, but Matt Campbell’s managed to amass skill position talent. That will likewise be the case at fullback, where a new standout will need to be found as well.
Iowa State will also need to discover two new starting wide receivers after departures at wideout. Dashaunte Jones, a senior, should be a stalwart piece on the outside as one of the more experienced players on the offense.
On the defensive side of the football, the Cyclones were possibly the best unit in the Big 12 last season. Many of the faces from that group will be a part of the 2019 squad, which hopes to maintain that dominance.
The foundation of such a great defense starts up front, where all four linemen return, including defensive end JaQuan Bailey and nose tackle Ray Lima. They will be two of the best in the entire conference this season.
Marcel Spears Jr. and last year’s freshman standout Mike Rose come back to fill two of the three linebacker spots, so the Cyclones will have to hope a newcomer grows into the other starting role.
The secondary has some proven playmakers from 2018. Senior Braxton Lewis, along with juniors Lawrence White and Big 12 Defensive Newcomer Of The Year Greg Eisworth, were key pieces of last season’s defensive backfield, and will be important yet again this year. Two cornerbacks will have to be found to mature into starting roles after the loss of two seniors there.
On both sides of the ball, however, Campbell and his staff have shown a penchant for being able to bring along new faces. The real question is about who exactly will step up and what kind of timeline there should be for the emergence of new stars for the Cyclones.
If Iowa State is able to find some replacements on offense sooner rather than later, things might really take off in Matt Campbell’s fourth year at Iowa State.