As the Big 12 begins formulating protocols for how to handle college football during the pandemic, including postponements, cancellations, and even potentially cutting roster sizes, we wanted to take a look at the roster to see what Cyclones could be the first play both sides if need be.
As of right now, the proposed scholarship player reduction would bring the scholarship player total to 64, which is roughly what most teams bring to road games. That’s essentially the full two deep, plus special teams players. However, that’s all that would be available on the entire roster for the whole season.
There are some obvious ones that every team will have available for multiple positions, such as defensive backs and wide receivers (who could also sub for a running back in a pinch, and vice versa), and offensive and defensive linemen, but let’s take a look at some more specific players that could play a new position in a pinch.
Easton Dean (TE/QB)
In case Brock Purdy, Hunter Dekkers, and Aidan Bouman were to all go down to injury, former 3-star QB recruit-come-tight end Easton Dean would be the most obvious choice to fill in. Even as he transitioned to tight end throughout his freshman season, Dean still took practice snaps at quarterback and is at least somewhat familiar with the offense. If Campbell wanted to resurrect the JoelDozer/LanRam package, this would be the guy to do it with.
Over his two years as a starter in high school, Dean passed for 4,070 yards and 36 touchdowns, while racking up another 999 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
Dylan Soehner (TE/DE)
I have no actual proof that Soehner can play the defensive end position, but at 6’7” 280 pounds, this tight end/H-back is plenty big and strong enough to hold his own at the defensive end, and athletic enough that he could probably do some actual damage there, and not just be a fill-in player.
The great part about about about both Easton Dean and Dylan Soehner is that the tight end room is so deep that even if both of these guys had to play different positions for a game, the tight end room would still have its first and second options on the depth chart available to use in Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, as well as the promising Skylar Loving-Black, so it wouldn’t take a dramatic hit in productivity.
Tayvonn Kyle (DB/WR)
Kyle came to Ames as a three-star wide receiver from Georgia, but switched to cornerback last season after finding himself pigeon-holed down in a deep receiver depth chart. Early returns at defensive back have been good, and he appears to be a promising player going forward. However, if in a pinch, Kyle could absolutely switch back to the receiver position.
Brock Purdy (QB/LB)
lol just kidding
Hunter Dekkers (QB/LB)
For real, though. As with Dylan Soehner, I don’t have any actual proof that he can play defense. However, I do know that Joel Lanning hadn’t played linebacker since junior high, and still managed to be an All-American after picking up the position in one offseason.
If Dekkers is a similarly intelligent player, he could potentially also be successful with it. He clocks in at 6’-3”, 240 lbs, so he’s got plenty of size, and we can see on his high school tape that he’s plenty athletic enough to be serviceable in a pinch. I wouldn’t want to get in the habit of converting quarterbacks to linebackers, but it already worked once, so why couldn’t it again?
Enyi Uwazurike (DL/OL)
As mentioned before, many offensive and defensive linemen likely played both sides of the line at some point in their lives, and maybe even into high school if they weren’t at a large program. Enyi Uwazurike went to a larger school in the Detroit metro, so he may not have played both sides, but at a newly-minted 315 pounds as of the most recent roster update, he certainly has the size and athleticism to potentially be a successful fill-in.
Obviously, the offensive line is a different skill set than rushing the passer, but he’s certainly at least familiar with the basic concepts, and he’s got quick feet and good flexibility to be able to potentially even see some success at a tackle spot.