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Football

Camp Insider: Is Morrissey a game-changer? Position battles

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AMES — Heading into his senior season at Iowa State, defensive end Cory Morrissey has the reputation of being a nice player. At 6-foot-4, 260-pounds, his body is top notch. Morrissey is a smart kid who is known as one of the hardest workers on Paul Rhoads’ team. 

Again, he is a nice player, but could the former Gilbert Tiger be more than that in 2014?

Practice after practice during fall camp, Rhoads and defensive coordinator Wally Burnham sure have spoken highly of Morrissey. Perhaps he is due for a true breakout season as a game changer on a young defense that desperately needs one.

“Cory Morrissey always stands out,” Burnham said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “He is always making plays.”

*** LINK: Rob Gray’s report on Iowa State’s offensive scrimmage *** 

As for Rhoads… 

“Cory Morrissey jumps out every day,” Rhoads said. “He made a play from behind just because he plays so doggone hard every single snap.”

The numbers that Morrissey will be allowed to put up on Saturday’s this fall will have just as much to do with the guys lining up to him in the trenches as it will his skillset. If he gets some help, watch out. But with kickoff being only 14 days away, all indications point to Morrissey, a Big 12 honorable mention defensive end in 2013, being one of the most improved players on the team.

Notebook 

SAFETY STARTERS: Burnham did point out that he has made a decision on Iowa State’s two starting safeties for the 2014 opener against North Dakota State on Aug. 30. Sophomore T.J. Mutcherson will be that man at strong safety. 

“T.J. Mutcherson, I thought played the best he has played all spring,” Burnham said. “He made some plays and broke up some passes. He had some tackles.”

Opposite of Mutcherson will be redshirt freshman Kamari Cotton-Moya at free safety.

“At safety, we probably have our starters right now,” Burnham said.

STILL FIGHTING: Burnham has not made a decision as to whom he will start at middle linebacker in the season opener. Alton Meeks, Kane Seeley and Jordan Harris are all still in the mix.

“Right now, I don’t for sure but I have an idea,” Burnham said. “I have to see this tape and see where we are and if somebody really stood out above somebody else. I will make those adjustments.”

MAKING A PUSH: Some of the best news to come out of fall camp is the fact that JUCO transfer Trent Taylor appears to a be legitimate Big 12 player. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Florida native is putting real heat on Mitchell Meyers at the defensive end spot opposite of Morrissey.

“Trent is really pushing to become a starter,” Burnham said. “I don’t know who is going to make the starting lineup yet but he is pushing and is looking really good.”

Rhoads analyzed this position as well.

“Mitchell Meyers should up a little bit more and will continue to do that,” Rhoads said. “He’s a guy that will get better and better every single game this season and potentially for the next three years he’ll be that way. Trent Taylor’s showing up for us as a junior college player.”

Chances are, both men will see a good chunk of snaps in the opener, and the season for that matter. 

JEVOHN MILLER: At WILL linebacker, Jevohn Miller has a 25-pound advantage over his competitor for the starting spot, Luke Knott. That is important when considering that Iowa State’s first three games are against running teams in North Dakota State, Kansas State and Iowa.

“Come North Dakota State, they are going to have two backs in there and Jevohn is bigger and stronger,” Burnham said. “He can take on those lead blocks and power blocks and things like that. I think both of them will play in the first game. I don’t know which one will start." 

TUESDAY: This is the deadline in which Burnham hopes to have his starting lineup in ink for North Dakota State. It is also when the Cyclones will begin preparing for the three-time defending FCS champions.

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