Iowa State 2023 Spring Game Takeaways
Iowa State Football concluded its spring ball practice sessions on Saturday, April 22nd by having a Spring Game for the first time since 2017. It is hard to take a lot away from the practice because of the 130 days until the first game. But here are a few takeaways we saw from the open practice held at Jack Trice Stadium.
100th Anniversary Throwback Uniforms
Iowa State unveiled its throwback uniforms that will be worn on October 7th against TCU. The jersey is in honor of Jack Trice, who was the first African American football player in Iowa State history. The jerseys have had unanimous approval by the Cyclone fanbase. I absolutely love them. The colors and design are flawless. Can’t wait to see them worn. Here are the Jerseys:
Strength and Condition Looked Great
New Strength and Condition Coach Reid Kagy looks to have made an instant impact on the program since getting here in the early winter. The team physically looked as good as it ever has. Even the guys coming off end-of-the-season surgeries. With more time to develop this summer, it will be exciting to see what the team looks like come next fall.
Ryan Clanton’s VIOLENT Offensive Line
I think it is safe to say that in Matt Campbell’s tenure at Iowa State, the offensive line unit has been the most disappointing. The 2022 season was not favorable to Iowa State up front, and they needed a change. Saturday was a very promising start to Ryan Clanton's tenure at Iowa State. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be violent”, says Coach Clanton. This mindset was very clear during Saturday’s team period.
Tight End Depth
The 2022 season lacked a lot of things and most of all was the tight-end production. Replacing Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen is a tall task, especially for a young group. But Saturday we saw how deep that position group is. We got to see some veterans in Easton Dean, DeShawn Hanika, and Stevo Klotz last season and we know what they can do. But the young guys behind them are extremely talented. Jack Bjorn, Tyler Moore, Gabe Burkle, and Andrew Kellar all showcased their skills, and this position group looks to have made the most strides this offseason. I am super high on this group.
Like I said, you can’t take away much from the spring game. Enough said on the special teams.
Jirehl Brock and Co.
A healthy Jirehl Brock was on full display Saturday, and he had some moments that just make you excited for the fall. Iowa State not having a running game last season really limited what they could do on offense. A lot of that had to do with injuries. Cartevious Norton had many injury stints last season and will look to be a big-time contributor this fall. We also got to see the development that Eli Sanders and Arlen Harris Jr. have made this winter. Both looked great in the team periods and will compete for reps this fall.
The Professors Defense
Any defense coached by Jon Heacock I trust. We did not get to see a lot from guys that will be starters in TJ Tampa, Myles Purchase, Beau Freyler, Gerry Vaughn, J.R. Singleton, Isaiah Lee, and Jeremiah Cooper, but we know what those guys can do. Guys like Malik Verdon, Treyveon McGee, Zach Lovett (Missouri transfer), Carson Willich, Darien Porter, Myles Mendeszoon, Tyler Onyedim, Will McLaughlin, Jacob Imming, Domonique Orange, Ikenna Ezeogu, Blake Thompson, Terrell Crosby Jr., and Trevon Howard will all most likely see significant playing time. All were some of my top performers or someone I am excited about come fall. The defense may be young, but the talent is off-the-charts good.
Wide Receiver Room
Hunter Dekkers will have to find a new No. 1 target after losing Xavier Hutchinson to graduation last season, but Iowa State couldn’t have found a better guy than Jayden Higgins to fill that role. Higgins and Dekkers connected on many passes during the team periods including a bullet across the middle of the field for a touchdown. Look for him to make even more strides this summer to get ready for next season. Jaylin Noel did not practice Saturday, but he and Dimitri Stanley will be the most experienced wideouts in that room next season. Look for them to have an All-Big 12-type season next year. Beni Ngoyi, Greg Gaines III, Daniel Jackson, Kai Black, and Aiden Bitter will all play significant snaps next season. A lot of talent in that room.
As of now, the quarterback situation looks to be pretty clear with Hunter Dekkers leading the way and Rocco Becht and JJ Kohl behind. All three were on display Saturday and each threw touchdown passes in the team periods. I’ll start with Dekkers, he has things you just can’t teach. He threw some passes Saturday that will make your jaw drop. The thing that held Dekkers back last year was not having a running game and decision-making. With a year under his belt, look for him to have a big jump from his sophomore to his junior year. Rocco Becht has a little young Brock Purdy in him. Same build and makes the winning play. We got to see him in limited action last season and will most likely be the backup to Dekkers. JJ Kohl is perhaps the most intriguing prospect out of the three with all the accolades coming into the program. Kohl enrolled early to get familiar with the system. He may not play right away but his talent is off the charts good.
There are a lot of talented guys that aren’t even on campus yet that will be big-time players in the future. Abu Sama (RB), Jamison Patton (ATH), Benjamin Brahmer (TE), David Caulker (DL), Kooper Ebel (ATH), Jefferson Adams (DL), Zaimir Hawk (DL), and Carson Hansen (ATH) are just to name a few, will all be on campus in the fall for fall camp. The future of the program is bright, and I am excited to watch all the guys develop this summer. Sept 2nd can’t come soon enough.
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