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 finishing off the defense with the safeties.
Lawrence White is the sole safety not returning. While White wasn’t the biggest name on the Cyclones defense last year, he was 4th in tackles, and first in tackles not counting linebackers. White got an interception as well as a fumble recovery. White wasn’t perfect, a deep fly route would get past him every now and again, but the Cyclones did lose a solid starter.
Jaquan Amos is projected to take White’s spot. Amos is a grad transfer from Villanova’s FCS team. Villanova’s season was canceled in 2020, so Amos is coming off of a long rest. It’ll take some time for Amos to get comfortable in this unique scheme, but he certainly has the talent to excel in it.
He was a standout on the Villanova defense, led the team in tackles in 2018. He won multiple weekly awards for best CAA defensive player, a conference that has FCS powerhouse James Madison.
Leader of the Pack
Man this is tough, and what a nice problem to have that is. Greg Eisworth, who very well could’ve been part of that departures paragraph, is a returning team captain. Isheem Young is a torpedo on legs, and if he isn’t wrongly ejected from the Big 12 title game, we might’ve been crowned champions of the conference. Not to mention icing the game against Oklahoma in the regular season with an interception. That’s a hypothetical conversation for another time.
I have to go with Eisworth. He could be in an NFL training camp but he, like many others, on this Cyclone team thought they had a special opportunity ahead of them. I can’t overstate the importance of Eisworth returning this season, it turned our secondary from ‘we should be fine’ to ‘we should be great’. The composure Eisworth has is astounding. Eisworth has a chance to be FOUR TIME First Team All Big 12. I’ll call Jared Larson, but I’d have to think that is an extremely rare honor for any Cyclone to hold. Eisworth, to me, seems super underrated and should be in the same breath as the best defensive Cyclones of all time.
Kym-Mani King could certainly fight for that starting spot throughout the season with Amos. King saw plenty of playing time last season, playing most of the Big 12 championship game after Young was ‘targeted’ for ‘targeting’. (That call was as bad as you remember it).
The other two backups are relatively new faces, but not new players. DJ Miller Jr. played in five games last year, totaling 7 tackles. Mason Chambers, a true sophomore this year didn’t get any playing time last year, but we could see him in 5-7 games, hopefully near the end where the game has already been decided.
Anthony Johnson Jr., Greg Eisworth, and Isheem Young is one hell of a three headed secondary monster. Whether it’s Jaquan Amos or Heacock goes somewhere else with that third safety spot, we’re in good hands. Eisworth we know exactly what we’re going to get, a Jim Thorpe watchlist safety, First Team All Big 12 caliber play. Isheem Young can lay the smackdown, but needs to avoid leading with his helmet because Big 12 refs still don’t know how to properly deal with the asinine targeting calls.
The safeties are going to be solid. It’s an absolute joy how steady all three levels of Iowa State defense is. We have game changers at all three levels, depth at all three levels, it’s crazy. Heacock this is your masterpiece, go out and suffocate the best offensive league in college football. Let’s do this.