Breaking Down the Spring Depth Chart

Matthew Holst

Iowa State kicked off their 5th spring practice under Coach Paul Rhoads' regime yesterday and graced us with a depth chart ripe for picking.

Cyclones.com did something different this year. Instead of publishing the typical two/three-deep depth chart they went the extra mile and provided commentary from both Rhoads and the communications staff on each and every position. To see the depth chart as a whole and read the commentary click here. * denotes letterwinner and # denotes redshirt. For our take on each position keep reading.

Quarterback

12 Sam Richardson, 6‐2, 205, So.#

3 Grant Rohach, 6‐1, 210, Fr.#

No surprises here as Richardson tops the depth chart with Rohach immediately behind him. Both men will split snaps this spring but no word yet on whether it will be 50/50 or something different.

Backing them up will be quarterbacks Chanse Creekmur (RJr, Marshalltown, IA) and Brandon Horbach (RSo, Toledo, IA). No doubt we see both in the spring game but it's a scary proposition to think how close they are to playing in emergency action this fall if Trevor Hodge or Joel Lanning aren't ready. Every year in Rhoads' tenure has featured at least two quarterbacks start at least one game. A couple bad breaks and Iowa State could be starting their first true freshman at quarterback since 2003.

What to Watch for This Spring: Improved accuracy and timing from Richardson. Whether or not Rohach is the natural he's been proclaimed to be.

Running Back

8 ***James White, 5‐8, 192, Sr.#

32 ***Jeff Woody, 6‐1, 242, Sr.#

21 *DeVondrick Nealy, 5‐10, 183, So.#

10 Rob Standard, 5‐10, 208, So.#

2 Aaron Wimberly, 5‐9, 173,Jr.

This is likely to apply at every spot where there is a newcomer but pay no attention to Aaron Wimberly's place on the depth chart. Rhoads speaks highly of him and you don't bring in a JUCO transfer if he isn't expected to contribute immediately.

Otherwise there are no surprises here either. Assuming Wimberly breaks through like we hope, and White and Woody stay healthy, I think it makes sense to redshirt Shontrelle Johnson this fall. It provides class spacing and a long time table for Johnson to return to full health.

What to Watch for This Spring: Wimberly. We know what everyone else brings to the table.

Offensive Line

LT 65 **Jacob Gannon, 6‐7, 300,Jr.#

72 *Brock Dagel, 6‐8, 297, So.#

LG 73 Shaban Dika, 6‐5, 322,Jr.#

78 *Bob Graham, 6‐5, 296,Jr.#

C 74 **Tom Farniok, 6‐4, 287,Jr.#

56 Ben Loth, 6‐6, 316,Jr.#

RG 64 **Ethan Tuftee, 6‐4, 314, Sr.#

70 Daniel Burton, 6‐5, 302, Fr.#

RT 69 **Kyle Lichtenberg, 6‐6, 296, Sr.#

76 *Jamison Lalk, 6‐6, 295, So.#

The first thing that jumps out here are the moves of Gannon and Lichtenberg to their natural spots. As I mentioned in January, Gannon at LT seemed like the best fit. Gannon started the last two games of 2012 at RT in place of Brayden Burris and was a consistent pass blocker on the interior all throughout last season. Gannon and Lichtenberg on the outside are going to be great fits and Farniok and Tuftee on the interior are proven commodities. Farniok will only get better the closer he gets to 300 pounds. The wild card in this group is going to be Shaban Dika and if he can finally stay healthy enough to contribute to the team after having two ACL reconstructions. If he does the sky is the limit on this rushing offense.

If Dika cannot stay healthy there is a lot of depth behind him with every player on the two-deep having been redshirted and four more that Rhoads calls out by name also having redshirted. This group may be unproven after you get past the starters but there are a lot of options for new offensive line coach Chris Klenakis to choose from.

What to Watch for This Spring: Ass kicking and a lot of it. This line should be expected to bully an inexperienced front seven.

Wide Receiver

6 Tad Ecby, 6‐0, 195, So.#

4 P.J.Harris, 6‐1, 160, Fr.#

1 **Jarvis West, 5‐7, 174,Jr.#

18 **Albert Gary, 5‐10, 203, Sr.#

9 *Quenton Bundrage, 6‐2, 189, So.#

13 Dondre Daley, 6‐1, 191, Fr.#

Tad Ecby jumps to the top of one of the outside receiver spots while unproven receivers P.J. Harris and Dondre Daley move into the back up spots. With the no huddle offense this team employs it's not uncommon to see six or more receivers each game so Harris and Daley will see plenty of action in both the spring and fall.

There is no other way to describe this group but to say they are thin and very young outside of West and Gary, but what they lack in experience they make up for in size, which is something this offense has lacked on the outside since Marquis Hamilton graduated.

What to Watch for This Spring: With Jansen Watson on the sideline this spring it should be expected that this receiver group take advantage of the smaller corners they will be facing. Rhoads talks about how Daley and Harris dominated their competition in practice last year and now is our first chance to see it.

Tight End

84 *Ernst Brun, 6‐3, 251, Sr.#

95 Ben Boesen, 6‐6, 230, So#

89 Pierce Richardson, 6‐5, 253,Jr.#

11 E.J. Bibbs, 6‐3, 250,Jr.

The tight ends are going to have to step up in the receiving game this year to make up for the lack of depth and experience at the receiver spot and Ernst Brun can more than build on his 26 reception, 330 yard, six touchdown 2012 performance. E.J. Bibbs is very likely taking the other tight end spot and is virtually a clone of Brun.

What to Watch for This Spring: Can either Brun or Bibbs step up as a capable blocker or will this role fall down to Dowling grad Ben Boesen or oft-hyped Pierce Richardson?

Defensive Line

DE 50 **Willie Scott, 6‐2, 224, Sr.#

90 Mitchell Meyers, 6‐4, 253, Fr.#

DT 18 Collin Bevins, 6‐5, 277, Fr.#

92 Austin Krick, 6‐2, 277,Jr.#

91 Pierre Aka, 6‐4, 273, Fr.#

NG 93 Brandon Jensen, 6‐5, 301,Jr.#

95 **Walter Woods III, 6‐0, 318, Sr.#

DE 48 *Cory Morrissey, 6‐4, 249,Jr.

or 69 *Nick Kron, 6‐2, 240, So.#

A constant pain point in Rhoads' tenure finally comes around full circle and is filled with youth, but depth, across the board. Willie Scott is the unquestioned leader of the group and Brandon Jensen, Walter Woods III ,and Cory Morrissey will be charged with bringing along a youthful, but sizable squad.

The end position should be in good hands with Scott, Morrissey, and Kron all returning experience from last season. David Irving is out this spring but will be expected to take his occasional stretches of brilliance and turn them into full games this fall.

How this team holds up in the middle will be the make or break the defense this year. The linebackers are not going to be dominate like in years past and the youth at the tackle position is going to have to learn fast to keep offensive linemen in the trenches and not in the second level. We're prone to see great stretches this year followed up by boneheaded plays, but make no mistake, this is an athletic group with a high ceiling.

What to Watch for This Spring: Can this line keep itself from getting its ass kicked by an experienced and big offensive line?

Linebacker

SLB 14 **Jared Brackens, 6‐1, 210,Jr.

44 Alton Meeks, 6‐2, 241, Fr.

MLB 52 ***Jeremiah George, 5‐11, 219, Sr.

41 Darius White, 6‐0, 233, Fr.#

WLB 55*Jevohn Miller, 6‐1, 240,Jr.

21 Luke Knott, 6‐0, 216, Fr.#

This just about sums it up:


Secondary

CB 6 Kenneth Lynn, 5‐10, 165, So.#

11 Charlie Rogers, 6‐1, 202, Fr.#

SS 26 ***Deon Broomfield, 6‐0, 206, Sr.#

22 T.J. Mutcherson, 5‐11, 191, Fr.#

FS 5 ***Jacques Washington, 6‐1, 220, Sr.#

7 *Cliff Stokes, 6‐1, 175, Sr.

CB 4 *Sam Richardson, 5‐7, 182, So.#

17 Damein Lawry, 5‐10, 169, Fr.#

Sitting out this spring are Jansen Watson and Gage Shaeffer who are both rehabbing shoulder injuries. This is the most experienced group on the defensive side of the ball and will provide a good competition between Lynn and Richardson to see who wins the defensive back spot across from Watson in the fall.

I may be writing Rogers and Lawry off, but Lynn and Richardson have the leg up based on playing time last year. What will be curious to me will be what happens with Shaeffer in the fall. The staff seems high on him and he's a smart player. If the team is better off with him at safety and Broomfield in his old Nickel role then I have no doubt we see that in the fall. You put your best 11 on the field and that linebacker group is awfully thin and inexperienced.

What to Watch for This Spring: Can the young corners keep up with the young receivers, and how often will the safeties be the last line of defense?

Specialists

Placekicker

41 *Edwin Arceo, 5‐9, 196, Sr.

1 Cole Netten, 6‐1, 205, Fr.#

Punter

13 ***Kirby VanDer Kamp, 6‐4, 211, Sr.

What you see is what you get here.

What to Watch for This Spring: Netten pushing Arceo and hopefully gaining at least kickoff duties in the fall.

One sided spring games are never a good thing to experience (remember 2006?) and I have an awfully terrible time believing this one will not be one sided from the get go. The offense returns a lot of experience and size on the offensive line, a stable of running backs, and a capable quarterback. If the running game moves to primarily running out of the Pistol then this offense could really take off.

That makes for an entertaining afternoon on April 20th but a lot of headaches for Wally Burnham and company during the summer and fall. The youth and size of the defense is exciting but worrisome due to the lack of depth in the middle. Burnham is nothing short of a miracle worker given what he started with in Ames but molding this group into a functional unit may be his greatest miracle yet.

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