Welcome to our 2023 Iowa State football position previews, where we will spend the last few weeks before kickoff going over each position group for the 2023 team. This week will be the offense, and next week will be the defense. Let’s spend today going over a position with a core group of veterans, a few question marks, and some new faces.
Iowa State will be without our Y-Position player, Jared Rus. His production was never the top of the offense, but his dedication and determination will surely be missed. Jared was a four-time Academic All-Big 12 Frist Team (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022), All-Big 12 First Team (2021) and All-Big 12 Second Team (2022). Sure - those All-Big 12 Team selections were for fullback, but he was also packaged as a tight end for us. His career stats were 39 games played with 14 receptions for 112 yards.
Brahmer was recruited with an 87 composite score and played both wide receiver and tight end in high school. The 6’6” and 240-pounder originally committed to Nebraska back on April 2, 2021. On December 6, Benjamin decommitted from Nebraska and committed to Iowa State. Watching some of these highlights, he seems like a jack of all trades. In his senior year, he accumulated over 1,700 all-purpose yards while producing 21 touchdowns.
There are a few other names on the roster at this position that have the Fr. behind their name. One even might look familiar. AJ Petersen, son of two-time All-Big Eight defensive lineman Troy Petersen, and younger brother of Joey and Zach is one of our walk-ons along with Tripp Walsh, who is a legacy as well with his father, Michael Walsh, playing baseball (don’t get me started) for the Cyclones from 1991-1992. It always makes me smile seeing legacies come in to programs and these two are no exception.
Three freshmen redshirted last year with the hopes of potentially seeing some playing time this year after having a full season to learn and develop. Gabe Burkle was a heavily recruited freshman out of Cedar Rapids for the 2022 class with offers from Kansas State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana. Gabe saw garbage time last year verse SEMO and Ohio. Andrew Keller was another freshman that was heavily sought after in 2022. The Waunakee native held offers from Iowa, Texas, Michigan State, Minnesota, West Virginia and Indiana. He did not see any time last year. Finally, Jack Bjorn. One of the other walk-ons on our roster, he has the least football experience out of everyone with his football career beginning his senior year of high school.
Leader of the Pack
Easton Dean might be our biggest leader in the room. With DeShawn Hanika’s name being thrown out as part of the ongoing investigation into the gambling probe for Iowa State and Iowa Athletics, we will be turning to Easton to be the focal point. Easton has played in 36 games for the Cyclones in his career. In 2020 and 2021, he didn’t see the ball very often (I wonder why - stares at loaded tight end room) and then became more of a target last year. In 2022, Dean caught 10 passes for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns which gave him the 8th most receptions on the team and the 6th most yardage.
With DeShawn Hanika likely out for awhile (or possibly indefinitely) pending the NCAA’s suspension for the gambling allegations, I expect to see Tyler Moore gain more playing time and maybe special teams regular Stevo Klotz. You could also make an argument that, depending on Nate Scheelhaase’s playbook, we might see some of the redshirt freshmen in the rotation.
We’ve been told Easton has high potential along with Tyler Moore, but we just haven’t seen the production. This could have been from the play calling, the play style, or even just not having the trust of Hunter Dekkers last year. If I was to give us a score, I would say this position is a 5/10 in the concern spectrum. We have the players to make some plays, but the consistency and the depth are what will make or break this position group this season.