Coach Matt Campbell and four Iowa State student athletes traveled to Dallas, Texas for Big 12 Media Days today. Those fortunate to head south were Jake Campos, Allen Lazard, Brian Peavy, and Joel “LANRAM” Lanning.
The Iowa State football team was picked to finish 9th by the conference media representatives. Even after Bob Stoops left his team on a roadside curb, Oklahoma was still picked to finish atop the standings, followed by Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
ISU had two players selected to the preseason All-Big 12 football team – both wearing number #5 – as seniors Allen Lazard and Kamari Cotton-Moya were selected by media as first-team honorees.
Coach Campbell’s Opening Comments
“I’m extremely proud and encouraged by what our football team has been able to do as we put an end to last football season,” said Campbell. “I think we learned some great lessons across the board, and were able to learn as the football season went on.”
From game one to twelve, there probably wasn’t a team that improved as much as ISU did last year. Although the Cyclones only won three games, they were still in contention for many more, and look to improve upon those strides into the next year.
LANRAM Goes From Pummeling Safeties To Eating Quarterbacks
Going from starting signal-caller on offense to its counterpart on defense, it appears Joel Lanning has made the transition to linebacker with ease. The senior from Ankeny was all ears when he was approached by the coaching staff after last season to make the change.
“Joel has been a beacon of excellence within our program, from the day that I got to ISU,” said Campbell. “You talk about laying the foundation of excellence, and Joel has been that.”
“We saw one of our best (players) not consistently on the football field at the end of last year, and initially talked in the offseason about the offensive side, knowing he is a good ball carrier, and as we thought more of it, we thought – where can he help this football program?“
That need for help was clearly in the second line of defense, and as it sits, hot off the presses, the pre-fall depth chart was released today and shows Joel Lanning at starting middle linebacker.
Campbell went on to gush about his new multi-dimensional toy in the sandbox – “I was taken aback from his growth from (spring) practice one to practice fifteen. Joel always played with a linebacker mentality when he played quarterback, and he (looks) like he belonged for sure.”
Lazard Back for Senior Year
Coming back for what appears to be a record-breaking career is senior wide receiver Allen Lazard. The stud from Urbandale led all receivers in all categories last year, and hopes to put his stamp on this program with one final banner season.
“When you watch him at his best, he is really special,” exclaims Campbell. “He has ability to make all the catches, and make all explosive plays on the field. Not only a great receiver, but a huge asset in the locker room.”
“He came to Ames leave a legacy.”
And that is exactly what #5 will do. Lazard is on pace to break career records for receiving yards and catches, and looks to add to his mark for consecutive games with a reception and 100-yard receiving games
ISU Has a Long and Successful History with Night Games at Home
In fact, the Cyclones will open at home against UNI in a night game, and the one game everyone is circling on their calendars, is a Thursday night prime time game against Texas on September 28th.
“I’ve been so impressed by Jack Trice Stadium, period,” said Campbell. “I think it’s one of the most unique places in college football.”
“When you turn the lights on and get a chance to play in that environment, it seems like it only continues to get our fans going.”
“I’ve said this, and will continue to say this – We’ve got one of the most special fans bases in all of college football” –Matt Campbell
ISU’s Success with Transfers
While Iowa State has had to go the transfer route for some of its players, it appears attaining grad transfers so far has been a success.
“What I do think from a student athlete (perspective) is you earn the right to graduate, and in a situation where you’re not playing or not happy where your situation is, I think you’ve earned the right to (transfer). I think we’ve had enough successes, and tried to bridge the gap over the years with our recent recruiting classes and seniors.”
Some of those success stories are projected starter Evrett Edwards, Reggie Wilkerson, Marchie Murdock, as well as other transfers like Jacob Park, D’Andre Payne and Matthew Eaton.
Iowa State starts practice in a few weeks, and we will keep our ear to the ground as Campbell and company grind their way into the new season.