Iowa State didn’t have to focus on the linebackers too much for 2018 after the 2017 class. Depth is never a bad thing to build on a defense in the Big 12, we all have seen what no depth can create. Michael Rose, Gerry Vaughn and Chandler Pulvermacher will come to Iowa State looking to make an impact on the defense for years to come.
Michael Rose - Ohio
Michael Rose was originally committed to Ball State. Matt Campbell made a visit to a high school game while playing at Akron. The staff wasted little time offer Rose soon after watching him play. He also held and offer from Air force.
Rose has the ability to play all over the field. During his time in high school he spent time as a defensive end, safety and outside linebacker. At all three positions he has had success and plays fast. His versatility is what appealed to the coaching staff the most. Looks for Rose to play some linebacker and move around in a type of defensive back role as well against the high powered Big 12 offenses.
In his highlight video, you can see Rose line up at all three levels of the defense. At defensive end, he’s ultra-quick off the line and often goes straight past the tackle into the backfield. At linebacker, he moves well and takes good pursuit angles, but needs to work on his play recognition. At safety he’s good in coverage, but excels in run support. If he takes a redshirt year to put on a little weight and improve his play recognition skills, I think he can fit the mold of an AJ Klein.
AJ was very good in run support and zone coverage, but his best attributes were his instincts and intelligence. Rose is probably more athletic than Klein was coming out of high school, but shares much of the same block shedding-prowess. Klein was a more polished run stopper, while Rose is better in coverage. This comparison isn’t so much about where Rose is right now, but what I think he will eventually become.
Gerry Vaughn - Georgia
Gerry Vaughn in the 86th best outside linebacker in the 2018 class. He is the one true linebacker in this years class for Iowa State. Red-shirting may be his option for next season and allow him time to develop. Vaughn had offers from Maryland, Rutgers and Colorado State.
Iowa State liked Vaughn because they were looking for at least one true linebacker for the class. Vaughn certainly fits that mold. Vaughn has great speed and has a great ability to find the ball carrier at a fast pace. He also has the ability to rush the passer with leverage against offensive tackles.
Coming into Iowa State, Vaughn sits at just 210 pounds, which is obviously not big enough for a Big 12 linebacker, so he’ll absolutely need the redshirt. As a redshirt freshman, he’ll probably look a lot like Jared Brackens as an undersized, but athletic outside linebacker. As he puts on muscle and matures, he’ll probably start to look more and more like tackling machine and 5th round NFL draft pick Alvin “Ace” Bowen. Bowen recorded 155 tackles in his junior season, good for second in the country. Bowen’s playing weight was around 225 lbs, so Vaughn can still be very successful even if he only adds about 10 pounds of muscle. By the time his redshirt junior season rolls around, he’ll probably be somewhere at or north of 235 pounds, and will make an excellent outside linebacker.
Chandler Pulvermacher - Wisconsin
Flying under the radar may not be a bad thing. Chandler Pulvermacher did just that. Originally committed to play at North Dakota State, Pulvermacher’s recruitment picked up steam and it landed him at Iowa State.
Much like Michael Rose, Pulvermacher can play all over the field on defense. Iowa State will use him mainly as a linebacker, but his size and speed may allow him to play a bit of a safety hybrid role. Pulvermacher has the big hit ability. He will be another fun defensive project to keep an eye on.
The first thing you’ll notice when you watch his tape is just how hard this guy hits. When he goes to make a tackle, he doesn’t just wrap up, he runs straight through the ball-carrier. Since Iowa State will move him to a hybrid linebacker/nickel role, his coverage and pursuit skills will be extremely useful to him at the college level. Where he really excels is chasing down the ball in horizontal run and pass plays. In a conference where offenses tend to mix in a good bit of horizontal passing, he should be a prime candidate for that nickel spot, where he can lay the wood on tiny slot receivers in bubble screen situations.
His most immediate comparison to an ISU player is Nik Moser. In an era of traditional defense in the early 2000s, Nik actually played the same hybrid linebacker/safety role that Pulvermacher will be asked to play. Moser was solid in coverage, but was known primarily as a big hitter in run support. Pulvermacher’s skill set right now will allow him to do just that. As he mature, adds muscle and weight, and improves his pursuit angles, you could see a player that looks a lot like the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jordan Hicks, who at 6’1” 240lbs is one of the NFL’s best coverage linebackers.