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Joel Lanning: Iowa State's Swiss Army Knife

"It's a linebacker! It's a back-up center!" No, it's Joel Lanning...

Fall camp always brings us a variety of interesting stories, like updated running totals on how many players get injured in practice each day, what crazy dudes like Levi Peters have been up to, or which inexperienced and unproven players will get a chance to start on defense. This year, apart from the stories about how last year's team expected to lose (welcome to the life of an Iowa State fan), much of the buzz from camp has been positive and intriguing. One of the more interesting stories has come from an unlikely source: 3rd/2nd/who knows string quarterback, Joel Lanning.

According to both Paul Rhoads and Mark Mangino, the redshirt sophomore QB out of Ankeny is one of the Cyclones' most talented players. This means that either our team has very little talent, or that our 3rd string quarterback is simply a beast we've yet to see on the field. Initial reports were that Lanning was battling Rohach to be the backup QB, but it seems that narrative has now shifted. Word is that Lanning may be the best player on the team, in the Big 12 Conference, the entire NCAA, or maybe even the world.

The coaches are so excited about this guy that they haven't even had time to figure out where he'll play in 2015. Mangino insists that Sammy Richardson is the main man at quarterback, but couldn't contain his desire for Lanning to see the field in some capacity. He even compared him to Kerry Meier, a backup quarterback who played wide receiver at the same time for Mangino's Kansas teams.

Since the coaching staff isn't sure where Lanning will play, I figured they could use some suggestions.

10 positions Joel Lanning will play in 2015:

1. Backup center: Apparently, Iowa State isn't allowed to have a healthy player waiting in the wings if when the starting center goes down to an injury. Since there's an opening here once again, why not have one quarterback call plays for the offensive line and another run the offense?

2. Paul Rhoads' headset holder: It isn't easy following Coach Rhoads around the sideline. Known for being animated and the ability to cover some ground, sticking with Paul requires an athletic, intelligent player who is able to read any situation. Like if when there's a terrible call that requires Rhoads to run onto to the field to scream at the officials.


3.  Defensive Line: Even though the depth of the defensive line is improved from a year ago, it never hurts to have more warm bodies to throw in there. Last season, Iowa State gave up a staggering 246 rushing yards per game to its opponents. At this point, help in any form would be greatly appreciated.

4. Running Back: Iowa State expects Sam Richardson to run the ball, and has hinted he may even be the team's leading rusher at the end of the season. Why not expect Lanning to carry the rock as well, but as a running back? Who the hell are ISU's running backs anyways...

5. Quarterback: I wouldn't be surprised if Lanning gets some snaps as the team's main signal caller this season. This could be due to injury or poor performance from the starter. It simply isn't a Rhoads offense without one or both of those things happening.

6. Tight End: WIth EJ Bibbs gone, Iowa State is noticeably without its "security blanket" (see photo below) for the upcoming season. Why not give Lanning a shot? He's got the size (6'2", 232) and skill to be a potential difference maker. And because, once again, no one's sure who will actually play tight end this year.

7. Linebacker: I actually think he stacks up pretty well with our current linebackers. Wait. Who are this year's linebackers? Lets just hope Levi Peters is allowed to play atop his Harley.

8. Extra point holder: Maybe this will be the season Paul Rhoads rediscovers his wild side and runs a few trick plays. If that's the case, can we please not have a backup punter hold kicks? I still haven't gotten over the last time we tried to make that work...

9. Lanning in the "Belldozer" formation: This actually seems like a viable option. Lanning is supposed to be a decent runner, has good size, and can throw the ball if need be. Since Iowa State went 0-39828334 in short yardage situations last season, what do we have to lose?

10. Special team's cruise missile: This position would require taking the reigns from Levi Peters, who specialized in sprinting down the field with reckless abandon to light up some unsuspecting fool on kickoffs. With Levi being a senior, it's important he passes on this proud tradition to a younger player willing to be a "kickoff kamikaze".