Welcome to our 2022 position previews, where we will spend the last few weeks before kickoff going over each position group for the 2022 team. Today it’s all about the linebackers.
The loss of both Jake Hummel and Mike Rose will be impossible to replace. That is not a dig at this roster, but what Hummel and Rose bought on and off the field meant so much to Ames. Last year, they combined for 75 solo tackles, 4 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions. Dae’Shawn Davis and Aric Horne (both the backups on the 2021 team) transferred away, with Davis going to Southern University and Horne going to Florida A&M. Davis played in 6 games and had 4 solo tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Horne played in 9 games and contributed 7 solo tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.
Reeder is a RS senior and he transferred from Delaware. In 2021, he finished the season with 55 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and one interception. Reeder was a four-year contributor at Delaware and was All-Conference Third Team in 2021. He is currently a projected starter for the upcoming season.
Imming is the second-highest-ranked recruit from the 2022 recruiting class. He is the 5th-best recruit in the state of Iowa and the 44th-best linebacker recruit in the country. The three-star freshman is 6’2 and 215 pounds. He picked the Cyclones over Iowa, Kansas State, and Nebraska so we already like him. Would not be surprised if he works his way onto the field after showing the coaches what he can do.
The three-start product, Will McLaughlin is 6’3 and 220 pounds. He picked Iowa State over Air Force, Buffalo, and Iowa. Most of his work will be from the inside linebacker position.
Willich is another three-star recruit and he is the only linebacker recruit not from Iowa in this class. He had offers from Northwestern, Washington State, Kansas State, and Minnesota. The Missouri native comes in at 6’2 and 200 pounds.
Leader Of The Pack
The only returning starter at linebacker for the Cyclones is O’Rien Vance. He is very much seen as the leader of the pack however, he does have a history of injuries that have affected his playing time. Gerry Vaughn is another returning linebacker who got some time while Vance was injured last year. Vaughn ended 2021 with 45 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. In 4 fewer games, Vance had 36 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Without a doubt, Vance is the most talented linebacker on this roster, but health will play a major part in his senior season.
There are a lot of names for the backup linebacker roster spots. Kendell Jackson is a name that comes to mind, appearing in two games last year. Myles Mendeszoon also played in two games and Hunter Zenzen played in just one. Cole Peterson, along with the freshman, Jacob Imming, Will McLaughlin, and Carson Willich is also being considered.
To my knowledge, I think the starting linebackers are a pretty clear picture. Gerry Vaughn and Colby Reeder on the outside and O’Rien Vance playing the middle linebacker position. The LB core Cyclone fans have loved and watched play the past three years was great, but we need to understand that the changing of the guard is upon us. This group will play well and be underrated in the eyes of the Big 12. The thing is, the linebacker situation is quite easy to understand. With Vance, it will be well-balanced and solid. Without him, then young guys will be sent into the front line and it will become one of the weaker position groups on the team. Here is what I think the depth chart looks like at the LB position:
OLB: Gerry Vaughn (Starter), Myles Mendeszoon (Backup), Hunter Zenzen (Backup)
MLB: O’Rien Vance (Starter), Jacob Imming (Backup), Will McLaughlin (Backup)
OLB: Colby Reeder (Starter), Kendall Jackson (Backup), Cole Pederson (Backup)