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Football

WILLIAMS: Encouraged about next year’s offensive line

Oct 1, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell watches his team play the Baylor Bears at Jack Trice Stadium. The Bears beat the Cyclones 45-42. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

AMES — During the offseason, I have been and probably will remain somewhat skeptical when it comes to Iowa State’s offensive line in 2017. The way I have seen it, Iowa State is going to have proven Big 12 caliber players all over the field everywhere except up front.

Over the last few weeks, my mind has started to shift a little bit though.

Yesterday’s acquisition of USC transfer Khaliel Rodgers was vitally important. It looks even larger when you combine it the David Dawson commitment from the week before.

Iowa State just snagged 2017’s version of Brian Bobek (who was the program’s best lineman last season), twice.

I am going to assume that Jake Campos will come back healthy to anchor the line at tackle.

Soon-to-be sophomores Julian Good-Jones and Bryce Meeker should only be better this time around as well.

FYI: Birdies around the program chirping that Robbie Garcia (switched from defense to offense) has a bright future at either guard or center.

Believe it or not, one source told me on Sunday that former JUCO transfer Oge Udeogu is a “wild, wild card” that continues to get better by the day. He might be an option as well if he keeps progressing. (This is really good news as before Sunday, I had essentially chalked him up as a recruiting miss.)

At this point, I fully expect Sean Foster to be a front-runner to start coming off of a redshirt year. He was probably good enough to start as a true freshman but smartly, the staff stashed that year for development.

Obviously, Iowa State still needs to build depth, which will be a focal point in the offseason.

When you combine the two transfers with the improvement we saw from last year’s line that really had no business playing in the Big 12 (development/coaching impressed me a lot), there is reason to be optimistic about Iowa State’s offense next year.

Iowa State isn’t going to have the best line in the Big 12 but it isn’t going to be the worst either, which is something that we couldn’t say a year ago.

Because of it, I’m starting to come around and am genuinely excited to see how Matt Campbell and Tom Manning mold this group.

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