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Defensive Players to Watch: The Liberty Bowl

All okay without All-American

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State will be without CB1 T.J. “Air” Tampa while he prepares himself for the NFL Draft. Without their top corner, Heacock will have to tweak his defense in a game where there is a 3,000+ yard passer and a potential 1,000+ receiving yard receiver on the other side of the football. Fortunately, the T.J. Tampa news was more than likely known early enough for the defense to gameplan accordingly.

Iowa State: Myles Purchase

With Tampa no longer on the other side of the defense, Myles will become more of a focal point along with Tampa’s replacement. Purchase will need to prove that he is capable of holding his own against a very good receiver core and quarterback in Memphis along with being able to assist in the run game and use his length and experience to help propel the corners forward.

Myles Purchase currently has a total of 50 tackles, one sack, and 12 pass deflections. He is also one of now multiple players that are taking advantage of the most creative NIL Deal in existence with the Iowa Pork Producers. Myles is currently a junior and has worked his way from special teams to consistent starter. The only logical step is for him to be yet another great defensive back that Jon Heacock has created while at Iowa State.

Memphis: Chandler Martin

Chandler is the backbone of the Memphis defense and is only a sophomore. The Georgia native currently has 86 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and a touchdown in his first year at Memphis. In 2022, Chandler enrolled at East Tennessee State where he recorded 94 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and four pass deflections.

He held offers from South Alabama, Fordham, Dartmouth, and Columbia. After the 2022 season, he entered the transfer portal gaining interest from Middle Tennessee, and South Alabama again. He chose Memphis only a few weeks later and has been a star for them since. He has First-Team All-AAC honors as well as being a 2022 Freshman All-America honoree. Chandler will be busy in a game that will be split between rushing and passing from an evolving Iowa State offense.