College basketball is heading down the home stretch, college baseball has started, but let’s not forget (I know many of you aren’t) that spring practice is already getting underway across the country. We will handle spring previews for every Big 12 football team and roll them out based on when their respective spring practices begin. Next up are the Iowa State Cyclones who will start up spring practice on Tuesday March 12th.
Most Exciting Returnee: QB Brock Purdy
After an 1-3 start to the 2018 season, Iowa State decided to make a quarterback change. Little did we all know that that quarterback change would turn the entire season around thanks to true freshman quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy was a guy who was recruited late, but it paid off BIG time because he led the Cyclones to a 7-2 record to finish out the season and helped get his team to the Valer o Alamo Bowl. During his nine starts, Brock threw for 16 touchdowns and 7 picks along with scoring 5 times on the ground. He also completed 66.4% of his passes last season which is outstanding for a true freshman. There is no question that Brock is the starting quarterback for the 2019 season but what I want to see is him not only see him take the next step as a quarterback, but as a leader as well. With Hakeem Butler and David Montgomery gone, someone must be the vocal leader of this offense.
Most Exciting Newcomer: RB Breece Hall
It is always tough when you must replace a superstar on your offense especially when it is a running back like David Montgomery. David was an incredible football player and one of the best running backs in the entire country however I think the Cyclones have a special talent coming in with Breece Hall. In fact, he reminds me a lot of the guy he is trying to replace. He moves very well for his size and has great vision along with cutting abilities. One thing that surprised me when I saw him at the All-American Bowl back in January? His ability to catch the football out of the backfield. Again, I believe he will be a stud for the Cyclones, and I can’t wait to see what he can do.
Offensive Storyline to Watch
Who Will Step up at Wide Out?
If it wasn’t for Breece Hall coming in at running back, I could have talked about the running back position at this spot but instead I am going to shift my focus on the receiver group. Hakeem “The Dream” Butler was not only one of the best (If not the best) receivers in the Big 12 but maybe even the entire country last season after hauling in 60 catches for 1,318 yards and 9 scores. At 6’6, he was a matchup nightmare for anyone lining up across from him and while he was fun to watch, he now will likely be a very high draft pick after his outstanding combine performance a couple weeks ago.
NFL talk aside, Iowa State will need to replace his production by way of one person or as a group effort. Iowa State returns only four players who caught at least one pass last season in Deshaunte Jones, Tarique Milton, Landon Akers and Josh Johnson. Jones and Milton by far have the most experience and I would bet that those two end up as the top two options in the passing game for the 2019 season. However, you will need some of the younger guys to step up as well as Akers and Johnson shouldering more of the workload. This is a group that Cyclone fans should be keeping tabs on during spring practice.
Defensive Storyline to Watch
Iowa State loses starters Brian Peavy (2nd Team All-Big 12 in 2018) and D’Andre Payne who played both corner and safety. Both Anthony Johnson and Datrone Young got some starts last season as true freshman and it appears that both guys will be the favorites to win the jobs at the cornerback spots. However, in this league, you need more than two capable corners in the pass happy Big 12 and not to mention, all those talented wide outs you face every Saturday. Behind these two (Johnson and Young), the Cyclones have three other options in Arnold Azunna, Keontae Jones (Former WR) and Tayvonn Kyle. These three don’t have really any experience and are all redshirt sophomores this season. In case you haven’t noticed, this cornerback group is still young and inexperienced overall so these corners will need to grow up quickly before the season gets here.
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