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Football

WILLIAMS: Five thoughts on the start of spring football

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The month of March is here! Can you feel the madness?

Of course, that means that spring football has finally arrived!  

All sarcasm aside, everybody reading this (unless you’re one of the many Hawk trolls who visits our outstanding site on a daily basis) is an Iowa State fan, which means that you want Iowa State to do well.

From that standpoint, spring football – especially this spring – is very important.

Welcome to the unofficial start of the 2015 season – a season that for many ways is incredibly important to the future of Iowa State football.

With practices beginning today (Paul Rhoads’ will host a press conference at 11:30) in Ames, here are five thoughts/questions (in no particular order) on what’s about to go down over the next couple of weeks.

1 – Projected starters at linebacker

Long gone are the days of Jake Knott, A.J. Klein and Jeremiah George cleaning up mass messes. While there are still questions to be asked regarding Iowa State’s front four (I will touch on that in a moment) in 2015, I think an even larger question heading into the spring is surrounding the linebacker position.

Jevohn Miller, who recorded 68 tackles during an injury plagued senior season, is gone. So is a once promising prospect named Alton Meeks, who recently left the program.

In the middle, that leaves junior Kane Seeley (who has barely played in two seasons) and junior college product Jordan Harris, who redshirted last season. I’ll call Harris the early favorite to win the job, but is he a Big 12 caliber linebacker? Why did he redshirt last season?

At WLB, sophomore Brian Mills and junior Luke Knott are both back. I’ll go ahead and pencil in Knott as the starter but injuries have hindered him at every step of his career and defensive coordinator Wally Burnham has been high on Mills since day one.

The nickel position will be interesting. It sounds like newcomer Jarnor Jones and former free safety Qujuan Floyd will each be in the mix, along with additional experiments as well.

2 – Who’s the tight end? 

E.J. Bibbs was second on the team with 45 receptions last year and he is currently preparing for the NFL Draft. The guy who I had originally expected to replace him, Alex Leslie, left the program in the offseason. By default, that pretty much guarantees that former walk-on Ben Boesen will be the guy in 2015, no? Boesen, a senior, is known as blocking first tight end. 

Are there plans to move some chess pieces around here? 

3 – Terry Ayeni and Gabe Luna

How have these two junior college prospects that signed with Iowa State in 2014 progressed after being forced to redshirt last season due to injury? 

Ayeni and Luna should both at the very least give Iowa State a boost on the defensive line. The fact that both men have been on campus for almost a year now is a good thing.

Where are they at though in terms of progression?

Are these guys who can actually make an impact or simply depth for next year?

4 – Spring JUCO’s

Four mid-year JUCO’s will dawn the cardinal and gold for the first time this week and as is usually the case, each man will have an opportunity to earn immediate playing time from the start. 

As noted above, Jarnor Jones will be in the mix at nickel, although I truly believe that the former N.C. State player is a major question at this point. It’s a wait and see type of deal. 

Demond Tucker needs to produce immediately at defensive tackle.

At the very least, Jomal Wiltz needs to impact Iowa State on special teams.

Will Patrick Scoggins be able to step in and fill the departed shoes of Tom Farniok at center? 

5 – The running back position

DeVondrick Nealy left the program in the offseason, which leaves Iowa State’s starting running back position wide-open heading into the spring.

Michael Warren, who redshirted last year, is perhaps one of the most intriguing players on the team heading into spring drills in my opinion. Even if Nealy was in the fold, I’m not sure he would have been the primary back over Warren, a promising member of Rhoads’ 2014 class. 

Martinez Syria will be back for his sophomore campaign and Tyler Brown should provide a nice change of pace.

Additional musings…

*** Is Quenton Bundrage back to 100 percent?

*** Does the staff have any new plans for Joel Lanning?

*** I’m obsessed with the offensive line. If this group produces, Iowa State’s offense could be very good next season. 

*** It will be interesting to see what the staff does to replace T.J. Mutcherson at strong safety. 

*** As is the case every spring, expect a handful of position changes to be announced on Monday as well.