Iowa State’s senior running back Jeff Woody is one heck of a storyteller. Here’s a good one from Iowa State’s appearance at the Big 12’s annual media day event in Dallas last week.
“We were sitting down with Coach Rhoads at lunch and he goes, ‘This has been the most boring, uneventful and terrific media day that we have ever had because we haven’t had to worry about a quarterback or position battle that is just burning,” Woody said.
For the first time since 2010, the Iowa State football program will enter its fall camp (on Monday) without the murky cloud of a quarterback controversy hanging over it.
This is sophomore Sam Richardson’s job to lose and because of that, a sense of optimism is surrounding Iowa State’s offense as the month of August nears. No quarterback controversy means that Richardson won’t be constantly looking over his shoulder during practice, a luxury that Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett never got to experience during their careers at Iowa State.
“The optimism that everyone has is because of Sam,” Woody said. “Not to speak down on Steele (Jantz) or Jared (Barnett), but they had to compete with each other to land a starting job. It wasn’t a thing of, ‘I can relax and be who I am.’ You had to be tight and beat out the next guy to get playing time."
Naturally, Richardson’s leadership ability has evolved over time. He is a quiet guy by nature but throughout the spring, Iowa State’s coaching staff saw some major growth from that standpoint.
“When you are a freshman or even a redshirt freshman last year, he was still worried about knowing what he was supposed to do and read when he looked at a defense,” offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham said. “He probably wasn’t as ready and players didn’t look to him to ask those questions. Now, I feel like players feel comfortable to look right at Sam Richardson to tell them. I think that’s a big part about being a leader.”
Woody is about to enter his fourth and final training camp as a non-redshirted Cyclone on Monday. He played on Iowa State’s 2010 team where Austen Arnaud was the clear-cut starter. But he’s also lived through the never-ending Jantz-Barnett battles too. Needless to say, Woody likes it this way better.
“This is kind of nice,” Woody said with a smile. “This is really nice actually.”
To no surprise, Messingham agrees.
“It just makes it so there is less chaos from a media standpoint and a question standpoint,” Messingham said. “Right, wrong or indifferent, people ask all of the time who the starting quarterback is going to be if you don’t have a solidified one. You don’t ever hear people ask who your left guard is going to be or who your tackle is going to be when there are two or three guys fighting for that position.”
Messingham also noted that redshirt freshman Grant Rohach would be right there pushing Richardson along the way.
“He knows that he has a very good guy behind him that will continue to push him,” Messingham said. “He understands our offense and has very good skills himself and that is Grant Rohach.”
When camp opens next week, a question or two will likely be asked about Iowa State’s quarterback situation. That is natural and will always be the case. After all, it is the most important position on the field. But this boiling hot topic won’t even be comparable to the last two years and for that, the Iowa State football program appears to be thankful.