Welcome to our 2021 Iowa State football position previews, where we’ll be spending the last two weeks of the offseason previewing each position group for the 2021 team. This week will be the offense, and next week will be defense. Let’s take a look at the big dogs in front of Brock Purdy and Breece Hall.
Iowa State’s offensive line roster was full of underclassmen and two seniors in 2020. Noah Juergensen is the only senior who did not elect to use his COVID redshirt season and Juergensen did not appear in the two-deep depth chart last season. While it’s great for the outlook of the position group for 2021, this coming offseason will see the first departures on the offensive line that will put the group to the test.
The Cyclones added three offensive lineman in the 2021 class. Three in-state offensive lineman joined the team this offseason: Tyler Maro from Davenport, Jim Bonifas from Dubuque and Dodge Sauser out of Grinnell. All three players bring tremendous size to the offensive line and they will have time to develop in the coming years before making an impact on the field.
Leader Of The Pack
While Trevor Downing may be our best offensive lineman and highest draft stock, keep your eyes on Collin Newell to potentially be the true leader in 2021. Newell is the engine that makes this offensive line go. He was the anchor of the entire group in 2020 and took a major jump last season.
If Newell is playing well, the rest of the work is easier for the offensive line. We’re excited to see what a full year of Dave Andrews has done for Newell. The more push that Newell can generate is all the better for Breece Hall at the second level, potentially allowing Breece to have an even bigger year than 2020. Newell has also begun to pop up in 2022 mock drafts. With all the stars aligned, we assume that his draft stock will continue to rise after this season.
Matt Campbell has been very upfront about having plenty of depth on the offensive line this season, stating that the Cyclones could start eleven different lineman this year. Darrell Simmons, Joey Ramos, and Grant Treiber are all in a battle right now for a starting position on the offensive line. Simmons boasts the most experience after starting most of the season last year following Downing’s injury. Ramos is head-to-head battling with Jake Remsburg, and Grant Treiber is pushing Sean Foster for playing time. If these three don’t land the starting spots, they’ll bring valuable depth just behind the starters.
Admittedly, we’ve been describing the Iowa State offensive line as boring in 2021, but don’t get it wrong. It’s the best kind of boring. After all, for the first time in recent memory, we are entering into a season without hundreds of questions and “what-if” scenarios surrounding the offensive line. As Iowa State fans love to say, “It’s about damn time”.
If Iowa State is going to compete for the Big 12 crown again, this group is going to have perform like it’s 2020 - and then some. Thankfully, the band is back and the set list hasn’t changed. Matt Campbell will have one of the most experience and talented offensive lines in the entire country. If you had told us that five years ago, we would have laughed in your face and asked for whatever drink you were having.
So who is it gonna be? Which starters will be there for that first snap? Our best guess is - left to right - Foster, Downing, Newell, Schweiger and Remsburg. We’ll also throw into the mix that Simmons may find himself slotted into the right guard position, and could ultimately change the entire configuration of the offensive line. Regardless of how it shakes out, we don’t envision this group starting in game 12 of the season. This lineup is undoubtedly going to change over time, whether due to players getting breathers or someone clawing their way into the starting lineup.
As the opening game looms ahead, all that really matters is the Iowa State 2021 offensive line is confident, psyched and ready. And we are too.