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, now that we have previewed the offense, it’s time for the defense. Today, it’s the safeties.
So, stick with me here. Because it’s going to start off pretty dark. The departures include Greg Eisworth who graduated and Kym-Mani King who transferred to FAMU (yes, the same team that beat us in basketball), and Isheem Young who transferred to Ole Miss. Young’s departure surprised me a little.
Eisworth was a four-year starter, three time All Big 12, and a Jim Thorpe watchlist in his consecutive three years.
Young was co-freshman of the year in the Big 12, but admittedly, he took a step back in 2021 where his playing time wasn’t secure at the end of the year. His departure still surprised me, but I’m not as doom and gloom as I was when he announced he was transferring.
The New Guys
Treyveon McGee A JUCO player from the powerhouse Independence Community College in Kansas. Iowa State was his only P5 offer out of college, but McGee should round out depth in the secondary, and at only a sophomore he has plenty of time to grow into a bigger role in Ames
Blake Thompson Another JUCO transfer rounds out the ‘real’ new guys. More on that later, but Thompson comes from Blinn College in Texas. Thomspon is a sophomore this year as well and picked the Cyclones over schools like Mizzou and Kansas. I admittedly don’t expect to see a lot of these guys this season but with an unforeseen departure with Isheem Young, depth is vital.
Leader of The Pack
It’s hard to pick against Anthony Johnson Jr. He moved to the STAR position over the off-season. Johnson has started the last 38 games, and he played in 12 games as a true freshman. He’s been a steady hand every year, and not many expected him to come back for a COVID year, but the importance of that decision cannot be understated. He’s the clear leader of the secondary by seniority alone, if it’s happened to Cyclones in the last 4 years, Anthony Johnson Jr. has seen it first-hand.
The other guy that might being the standout star of the secondary is Beau Freyler. He shot onto the scene like a rocket last year, the Cheez-It bowl being his exclamation mark with 15 tackles. The most ever by a Cyclone Freshman in a bowl game. That was the first start for Freyler as well, but it sure as hell won’t be his last.
Anthony Johnson Jr. and Beau Freyler, if healthy, will start every game. The questions start with Malik Verdon. A redshirt freshman who is slotted to start ahead of the aforementioned Treyveon McGee. This is where I could see the highest chance of a backup getting a go, but strictly because of the unknowns about Verdon. Verdon has one more year in the system than McGee. Verdon played in two games last year before redshirting.
Mason Chambers will also get some playing time in the secondary without a doubt. He’s a name most Cyclones are familiar with. He primarily played special teams last year, but the junior is likely to get the first go in defensive rotations unless one of the young guys separates themselves from the pack.
Losing three starters is literally never a good thing, fine. But when you replace two of them with a four-year starter himself, and the rising star from the end of the season, it softens the blow. Now that Big 12 offenses know what to expect against the Heacock 3-3-5, it’s a lot more skill than element of surprise.
The secondary was shaky at times last year and hopefully some new blood can fill those holes.