Iowa State released its 2017 “pre-fall” football depth chart on Monday. The summer ladder of Cyclone talent is carved in granite for some players and written in the lightest pencil for others. There will be plenty of movement at some position in advance of ISU’s Sept. 2 season opener against Northern Iowa.
I-State returns two bona fide starters on the line and both are listed as No. 1s entering pre-season camp in a couple of weeks.
Senior Jake Campos missed the entire 2016 season with an injury but is back at left tackle with 23 career starts. Provided Campos is really healed, he will be the clear-cut marquee player on the O line. Redshirt freshman Sean Foster is the heir apparent at left tackle and will do well to have a year as Campos’ understudy.
Sophomore Julian Good-Jones started 11 games at tackle for Iowa State last fall but is now fairly solidly entrenched as ISU’s No. 1 center. Junior Will Windham is listed as the back up.
Bryce Meeker, another soph, started one game in 2016 but can’t be called a true returning starter. Still, the I-State coaches know what they have in Meeker and he should be considered pretty solid at No. 1 right tackle. Junior Kory Kodanko backs up Meeker.
Robby Garcia is the No. 1 left guard entering the fall. The senior has bounced around on the lines on both side of the ball and has never started a game for the Cyclones. Senior walk-on Bryan Larson backs up Garcia for now.
The other projected guard starter, junior Ode Udeogu, also has never started a game for I-State. Newcomer Josh Knipfel is the No. 2 right guard with a chance to push Udeogu for the starting nod. The sophomore played last year at Iowa Western Community College after not being offered out of Hampton-Dumont (Iowa) High School as a 2016 prospect.
Jacob Park left little doubt in November of 2016 that he is Iowa State’s best quarterback. The junior is rock solid as the Cyclones’ No. 1 QB following his strong stretch run last season.
Senior transfer Kyle Kempt and redshirt freshman Zeb Noland, returning from injury, are the co-No. 2s behind Park. Kempt came to ISU as a walk-on transfer from Oregon State. Noland enrolled in Ames mid-term in Jan. of 2016 but then was lost to injury all of last year.
The Cyclones appear to be in very good shape with the one-two combination of David Montomery and Mike Warren carrying the load at running back.
Montgomery, a sophomore, overtook Warren as Iowa State’s feature back last fall and holds the top line on the depth chart at RB. Warren rushed for over 1,000 yards as a freshman but has had his issues with ball security. Either is capable of having the hot hand in a given game. It’s not so important who is No. 1 and who is No. 2 here as it is they are both healthy and Warren can handle the mental and emotional side to not being the starter anymore.
Allen Lazard is one of the best college receivers in the country. If you aren’t on board with that statement, you really don’t follow football. Barring injury, the senior will wreck the ISU receiving record book this fall, taking over the top spot in multiple categories. Suffice to say, yes, he’s the listed starter at X receiver.
There’s more drama at the M receiver position, or slot. Senior Trever Ryen and sophomore Deshaunte Jones can both be considered as returning starters. Ryen is listed as the No. 1 entering the fall. But Jones will obviously get a lot of snaps and the pair could both be on the field at the same quite a bit as well when ISU deploys four receivers. Don’t get too hung up on the 1 and the 2 here.
At Z, long and talented sophomore Hakeem Butler is listed as the No. 1. When Iowa State wants or needs more size on the field, Butler is the guy. The co-backups, senior Marchie Murdock and junior Carson Epps, are mid-sized receivers and will get a lot of snaps as well.
JUCO mid-term newcomer Matthew Eaton is listed as Lazard’s backup at X and the junior could emerge as a big time player this fall. Finding him enough snaps could be a challenge.
Tight Ends/F Back
Redshirt freshman Chase Allen is healthy and ready to emerge after missing last season due to injury and illness. Allen is certainly the most athletic and most talented receiver available at the TE position.
Returning starter senior Sam Harms is No. 2 behind Allen. When the tight end position flexes into the backfield, junior Sam Seonbuchner is most likely to man the spot.
Iowa State has a total of 22 returning starts on its front four, led by senior defensive tackle Vernell Trent with eight. Trent is No. 1 at DT entering the fall, backed up by junior Matt Leo of Australia via Arizona Western CC, who had previously been considered more of a strongside defensive end since his January arrival.
J.D. Waggoner has seven career starts for the Cyclones and he’s the summer No. 1 at defensive end. Redshirt freshman Eyioma Uwazurike could have made a big for playing time last year as a true frosh, but he arrived late. He’s No. 2 now behind Waggoner and has all the physical tools to push his way into more reps as the season moves along.
JaQuan Bailey did play as a true freshman and he played a lot, ending up with seven starts. Bailey is now a sophomore and listed as the No. 1 LEO for the Cyclone defense. The LEO position is a defensive end/linebacker hybrid spot. Bailey is backed up by junior and former walk-on Spencer Benton.
Nose guard is an unproven position for the I-State D this fall. Junior Ray Lima is No. 1 after enrolling mid-year at ISU as a JUCO import from California. He’s backed up by sophomore Jamahl Johnson, who played in seven games as a true freshman. That will be one of the more intriguing position battles of the fall.
Quarterback convert Joel Lanning holds onto the No. 1 MIKE linebacker spot heading into the fall. Lanning, a senior, is still expected to get some specialty snaps at QB; but he’s a linebacker now. He grabbed a starting job in the spring and will fight to keep it in the fall. Redshirt freshman Tymar Sutton is the backup.
Sophomore Marcel Spears in a No. 1 linebacker slot ahead of returning starter Reggan Northrup is a bit of a surprise. Will it hold? Spears played quite a bit a year ago, but Northrup – a junior - started four games and played well. This will be another interesting position battle.
Junior Willie Harvey is listed as the Cyclones’ No. 1 linebacker with senior Mackenro Alexander as the backup. Alexander is also the No. 2 at the STAR position behind Everett Edwards, who registered five starts as a safety last fall. Iowa State will do a lot of different things with the third linebacker and hybrid STAR personnel, so there’s a lot the depth chart doesn’t tell us.
Georgia grad transfer Reggie Wilkerson enters camp as Iowa State’s starter at the strong safety position. The senior is running ahead of No. 2 Lawrence White, a redshirt freshman.
Iowa State is very solid at the cornerback positions with juniors Brian Peavy and D’Andre Payne on the top lines. Peavy has 21 career starts, including 10 a year ago. Payne played the STAR position a lot for I-State in 2016 and he logged eight starts in his first season on the field for the Cyclones. Junior De’Monte Ruth and redshirt frosh Arnold Azunna are the No. 2 corners on the summer depth chart.
At free safety, ISU has the anchor of its secondary in senior Kamari Cotton-Moya. He started 10 games last season and has 27 career starts and is poised to be one of the top defensive backs in the nation in 2017. Edwards is listed as the No. 2 free safety in addition to being the No. 1 STAR.
The pre-fall depth chart does not include any newcomers that enrolled at Iowa State for the summer or are still possibly to arrive in August.