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Iowa State 2023 Spring Football Preview

By: Jackson Pence

The Changes

After a year full of one-score losses and losing in the margins, head coach Matt

Campbell and his new coaching staff will look to right the ship going into the 2023 season.

Coach Campbell lost many key parts from his team a year ago, and none hurts more than star wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson. Hutchinson was Iowa State’s best offensive weapon last year, breaking the single-season school record for receptions (107) while tallying 1,071 yards. It was one of the most productive seasons by any Iowa State wide receiver in the history of the school, and he earned himself 1st Team All-American by the Associate Press. While Hutchinson was a key loss on the offensive side of the ball, Will McDonald will be a key loss on the defensive side. McDonald was one of the best Big 12 pass rushers in the conference's history. He tied the conference record with 34 sacks. While only recording five sacks his senior year, he earned the 1st Team All-Big 12 selection. It was his third selection to the 1st team in his four years at Iowa State.

Matt Campbell (@ISUMattCampbell) / Twitter

Coach Matt Campbell had to make some changes this off-season. That meant with player development and coaching. He made significant changes on the offensive side of the ball by letting go of Tom Manning, Jeff Myers, and Dave Andrews. He promoted running backs and wide receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase to Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach. This will be Scheelhaase’s first season as an Offensive Coordinator. Coach Campbell also added Ryan Clanton from UNI as Offensive Line Coach, Jordan Langs from Indiana Wesleyan as Running Backs Coach and the long-awaited Special Teams Coordinator, Hank Poteat from Wisconsin as Cornerbacks Coach, Noah Pauley from North Dakota State as Wide Receivers Coach, and Reid Kagy from Boise State as new Strength and Conditioning Coach. Other departures from the coaching staff include former Quarterbacks Coach Joel Gordon to USF and former Cornerbacks Coach Matt Caponi to North Texas.

Promising Returners

With Spring Practice coming to a close this Saturday after the Spring Game, Iowa State is trying to find itself as they head into summer workouts and fall camp. Iowa State is full of youth at all positions, and no spot has a guaranteed starter. But all that youth has tons of talent, and of that talent is redshirt junior quarterback Hunter Dekkers. Dekkers is coming off a very up-and-down season. Where he threw for over 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. But throwing a disturbing 14 interceptions. Dekkers will be competing with Rocco Becht and highly touted freshman JJ Kohl.

Key Returners:


#12 Hunter Dekkers (QB)

#21 Jirehl Brock (RB)

#13 Jaylin Noel (WR)

#66 Tyler Miller (OL)

#55 Darrell Simmons (OL)

#72 Jake Remsburg (OL)

#83 DeShawn Hanika (TE)

#87 Easton Dean (TE)

Returning TE DeShawn Hanika had some spectacular plays for the Cyclones this past season


#2 T.J. Tampa (DB)

#5 Myles Purchase (DB)

#4 Jeremiah Cooper (DB)

#17 Beau Freyler (DB)

#32 Gerry Vaughn (LB)

#58 Isaiah Lee (DL)

#56 J.R Singleton (DL)

#95 Domonique Orange (DL)

Players to Watch:

#0 Zach Lovett (LB)- Transfer from Missouri

#5 Cartevious Norton (RB)

#7 Malik Verdon (DB)

#8 Greg Gaines (WR)

#10 JJ Kohl or 3 Rocco Becht (QB)- Whoever starts on the other side of the ball.

#9 Jayden Higgins (WR)- Transfer from Eastern Kentucky

#23 Will McLaughlin (LB)

#33 Arlen Harris Jr. (RB)- Transfer from Stanford

#82 Tyler Moore (TE)

#84 Gabe Burkle (TE)

#88 Ikenne Ezeogu (DL)

Jayden Higgins, WIde Receiver, Transfer from Eastern Kentucky, Photo via Twitter/JaydenHiggins3

Key Player to Watch: Wide Receiver Jayden Higgins, who had 750+ receiving yards and 10 TDs last season, will be a huge contributor to Iowa State this upcoming season and will try to fill the shoes of Xavier Hutchinson. He chose the Cyclones over Virginia and Pitt, Northwestern, and others. Look for him to impress this weekend.

Iowa State will host a Spring Game at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, April 22nd at 11 a.m. It will be free admission.

Make sure to follow both Cyclone.Sports on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook and Writer Jackson Pence (@JacksonPence06)

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