Williams: Position-by-position depth chart jottings

Chris Williams

Publisher

Grant Rohach during last Monday's open practice --- Photo by Rob Gray.

AMES --- A week after the start of fall camp, Iowa State held its football media day on Sunday at Jack Trice Stadium and with that, head coach Paul Rhoads released a shiny new depth chart. While it wasn't exactly full of surprises, it does provide us an opportunity to go position-by-position and analyze key position battles that will be taking place throughout the rest of fall camp. 

Below is a complete breakdown of what the depth chart looked like with notes on each position and some opinion as well.

*** CLICK HERE to view the updated depth chart in its entirety. ***

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Grant Rohach or
Sam Richardson or
Joel Lanning

*** “They literally are listed on the same line on the depth chart as we go into week two,” Rhoads said of this group following Saturday’s scrimmage. “We will get it sorted out this week.”

Next Saturday, Aug. 16, is the deadline that Rhoads put on making his starting quarterback decision at the Big 12’s media day in Dallas in July. Sophomore Grant Rohach entered the summer as the clubhouse leader for this spot but multiple birdies have indicated that Richardson, a now healthy junior, is still very much in the mix.

Chances are, Iowa State has a decent idea of whom the guy is going to be at this point in time but even so, this is a legitimate two-man competition. It sounds like redshirt freshman Joel Lanning is clearly behind the other two at this point in time.

Tailback

Aaron Wimberly
DeVondrick Nealy
Rob Standard
Tyler Brown

There isn’t much to debate here. Wimberly is the true No. 1 but Nealy will see his fair share of carries. Keeping Wimberly healthy is key so expect others, mainly Nealy, to get plenty of work early on too.

Z wide receiver

P.J. Harris
Tad Ecby
Dondre Daley

*** At last Monday’s open practice, neither of these men took reps with the ones as Quenton Bundrage, D’Vario Montgomery and Jarvis West were the three wide outs that appeared to be starters. The word “starter” really doesn’t mean much at this position though. All of these guys will see playing time. The same can be said for true freshman Allen Lazard, who was not listed on the new depth chart. One birdie told me that he expects Lazard to catch 20-30 passes this year for the Cyclones.

Rhoads also said this about the talented rookie: “Allen certainly is getting reps with the top group and has shown nothing to not make us think that he won’t be on the field for us on Aug. 30.”

Stay tuned.

F wide receiver

Jarvis West
Damien Lawry
Brett Medders 

*** West, a fifth-year senior, is clearly the top option in the slot.

X wide receiver

Quenton Bundrage
D’Vario Montgomery

*** Expect these two to be on the field at the same time quite a bit in 2014. Montgomery is a different player than the guy who ran with the scout team during his redshirt season in 2013. Along with Bundrage, Montgomery is a legitimate starting Big 12 wide receiver.

Tight end

E.J. Bibbs
Ben Boesen
Alex Leslie

*** I'm told that Bibbs was very good in Saturday’s scrimmage. 

Right tackle

Jacob Gannon
Jacob Dunning

*** Gannon doesn’t get talked about much but will be a critical component to Iowa State’s offensive line success this season. As a 306-pound fifth-year senior, Gannon has to stay healthy. 

Right guard

Daniel Burton
Ryan Glenn
Jacob Homa

*** At 6-foot-6, 328-pounds, Burton is probably the best looking offensive lineman on Iowa State’s roster.

Center

Tom Farniok
Jamison Lalk
Nick Severs

*** Iowa State lost backup Ben Loth to a career-ending knee injury on the first day of camp. There shouldn’t be too large of a drop-off with Lalk, however you always hate to lose quality depth. 

Left guard 

Oni Omoile
Wendell Taiese

*** I’m told that Omoile is clearly ahead of the JUCO Taiese at this point in time. Should Taiese develop into the type of player that the coaching staff is expecting, he will be dangerous in tough yardage, running situations. 

Left tackle

Brock Dagel
Jake Campos
Shawn Curtis

*** Campos was a highly touted recruit and is extremely talented but the West Des Moines native has a ways to go in comparison to junior Brock Dagel. That is how it should be when comparing a freshman to a junior too. 

DEFENSE

Left defensive end

Mitchell Meyers
Darius White
Trent Taylor
Justin Madison

*** The overall mood regarding junior college summer prospects Trent Taylor and Dale Pierson is very positive.

“Certainly the two newest additions on the defensive front, Trent Taylor and Dale Pierson, have opened our eyes,” Rhoads said. “They have had a nice first week.”

Rhoads added that Taylor, Pierson and safety Qujuan Floyd will all play this season and talk of redshirting them has been non-existent.

Defensive tackle

Robby Garcia
Pierre Aka

*** The depth chart doesn’t mean much here. Rhoads said that senior Brandon Jensen would rep with the ones at defensive tackle starting on Monday while sophomore Devlyn Cousin would be the top nose guard. Those are clearly the top two interior linemen on Iowa State’s roster so getting them both on the field at the same time makes perfect sense.

Nose guard

Devlyn Cousin
Brandon Jensen
Vernell Trent

*** See above note.

Right defensive end

Cory Morrissey
Gabe Luna
Dale Pierson

*** I’m told that Cory Morrissey was a mad man in Saturday’s scrimmage. Based off of rumblings around the program, the senior might just be the most improved player on Iowa State’s roster. Rhoads noted that Morrissey is one of the few men who is locked in as a starter at this point during camp.

Strongside linebacker/nickel

Drake Ferch
Jared Brackens

*** Walk-on Drake Ferch continues to top Jared Brackens, who started all 12 games last season, at this spot on the depth chart. 

“He does things right,” Rhoads said when I asked about this specific spot. “He’s extremely coachable and doesn’t repeat mistakes because of that. He plays very hard. He is tough and has plenty of speed. All of those things go into why he is running with the ones.”

Middle linebacker

Alton Meeks
Kane Seeley
Jordan Harris

*** On Friday, Rhoads said that he would be paying more attention to this position during the scrimmage than any other on the field. What did he see? 

“I wish they would have been more spot on and less hesitant than what hey still are,” Rhoads said. “I would not say that surprises me. I just would like to be a step further than we were after the scrimmage. They are still learning too. They are not learning a new system. They are still learning. I have said to this group often that Jeremiah George at this point in his career is very comparable to the guys that are playing that position now as well as the WILL spot. He was maybe even behind them in where he was. He was fortunate when he stepped on the field to be flanked by A.J. Klein and Jake Knott. Then the light really turned bright for him and he took off. It will for those guys too. But they have to be on the field right now and A.J. and Jake aren’t to their left and right so the committee will have to come through for us. We are 20 days out and have a lot of practices to get there. There is nobody better than Wally Burnham to get them there.”

Weakside linebacker

Jevohn Miller or
Luke Knott or
Levi Peters
Brian Mills

*** The top three here will all see the field in 2014. How playing time will be distributed is still to be determined.

Right cornerback

Nigel Tribune
Matthew Thomas

*** Along with Morrissey, Rhoads said that Tribune’s spot as a starter is basically locked in. His backup, fifth-year senior Matt Thomas, has apparently improved too.

“Matt Thomas is a fifth-year senior who I didn’t know if he would ever step on the field for us as a defensive player – I give a lot of credit to Matt and I give a lot of credit to Coach Linguist for bringing him along,” Rhoads said. “He has given us a bright spot in that group.”

Left cornerback

Sam Richardson
Kenneth Lynn

*** Rhoads referred to this tandem as a “partnership” at the left cornerback spot. On Friday, secondary coach Maruice Linguist said that Richardson held a slight edge over Lynn early on in camp.

Strong safety

T.J. Mutcherson
Darian Cotton

*** From a pure talent standpoint, Mutcherson is the guy here. However, Cotton probably knows the defense better at this point in time. 

Free safety

Kamari Cotton-Moya
Kamari Syrie
Qujuan Floyd

*** Cotton-Moya is likely the guy here. As Rhoads has mentioned numerous times, he would have played as a true freshman had it not been for injury. I expect Floyd to be a contributor in one way or another this season though. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Place kicker

Cole Netten

Punter

Holden Kramer

*** Rhoads noted that he has been impressed with true freshman Colin Downing. Chances are, he will end up winning this job.

Punt return

Jarvis West

Kick return

DeVondrick Nealy
Aaron Wimberly

*** I’ll be surprised if West isn’t one of the two returning kicks come Aug. 30. 

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