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2021 Iowa State Position Previews: Linebackers

All American, Mike Rose

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Iowa State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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. Today we’re looking at the linebackers.


As with most of this Iowa State team, there’s no real departures to speak of here. All three of our startling linebackers from last year are back this year. On top of that all three guys behind the starters are the exact same from last year. Just rinse and repeat, nothing wrong with that. Especially when are our linebackers are as good as they are.

New Guys

*Clicks tongue* Also none. There’s a few redshirt freshmen as third stringers but both were on the team last year. This linebacker room is plenty experienced, and it makes sense why we didn’t go out and put a bunch of recruiting on linebackers because it’s a pretty full unit right now.

Leader of the Pack

Mike Rose, (Who?) Mike Rose (At the 1:54 mark, I know it says Mike Jones, but it just flows so well). Without a doubt, Mike Rose is the leader of this linebacker core. First team preseason All-American. Big 12 defensive player of the year. The closer of many a game. It doesn’t get much better than Mike Rose. Not to mention, FIVE, interceptions last season. Five is a solid number for a ballhawking safety, let alone a linebacker. If we need one more tight end...

Baylor v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

He’s probably most comfortable at the middle linebacker position but he’s excelled at basically every aspect. He can bring pressure on the QB, stop the run game, stay with tight ends and receivers coming across the middle. He’s a sure tackler, a high IQ, high energy monster for the Cyclones on defense.


The starting three linebackers, Rose, Jake Hummel, and Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP, O’Rien Vance finished first, second and third in tackles, respectively. All three of them are great linebackers and this core is just as good as the Jake Knott, AJ Klein years.

That being said, all three of those guys are seniors this year so we ought to get to know the guys coming up behind them.

Aric Horne finished last year with 15 total tackles and a sack. He gets after the QB and is more of an edge rusher.

Gerry Vaughn and Dae’Shawn Davis could both end up being the future middle line backer. Vaughn is a redshirt junior, while Davis is a redshirt sophomore.

Vaughn has been a staple on the special teams unit for quite some time, and we should see plenty of him this year on defense. He had 24 total tackles last season.

Dae’Shawn Davis got the least amount of playing time last season, only putting up 3 tackles, but we should see a healthier dose of him on special teams and defense.

2021 Predictions

I think the three senior linebackers will have an excellent end to their fantastic Cyclone careers. Mike Rose could be a Butkus award finalist/winner, and I think all three of the starting linebackers could end up on an All Conference team. Mike Rose is pretty much a lock for first team All Big 12, and has a good chance as finishing on the first team All American team.

I love this defense. This defense makes me feel things. It’s a bunch of seniors who have seen this program at every step of the way, they’ve bought in and now they’re reaping the benefits. This defense is stacked and the linebackers are no exception.