Paul Rhoads expects the summer to be a season of growth for the Iowa State offensive line.
The fourth-year football coach said the Cyclones’ front five — a group where former Quad-City area preps Ethan Tuftee and Kyle Lichtenberg are competing for starting assignments — can develop into a strength of the team despite the loss of two players now working on NFL careers.
“A lot of people would expect a drop off when you lose guys like Kelechi Osemele and Hayworth Hicks, but I think people may be surprised,” Rhoads said during the Cyclone Tailgate Tour’s stop in Bettendorf last week.
“It’s a blue-collar group, and the depth there is as good as we’ve had since I came back to Iowa State. They go about their business the right way, and I was pleased with the progress I saw from our offensive line during the spring.”
Davenport Assumption grad Tuftee, a 6-foot-4, 318-pound junior, tops the depth chart at left guard, while Lichtenberg, a 6-6, 294-pound junior from Bettendorf, is in the mix at left tackle.
“Those two guys, along with Jacob Gannon from up the road in Iowa City, have put themselves right there,” Rhoads said. “I like the way they go about their business.”
All returned to campus last week for the start of summer school and the start of offseason training.