Joel Lanning practices at linebacker during spring practice. (Courtesy: Cyclone Football on Twitter)
Spring practice at Iowa State will come to a close on Saturday when the Cyclones hold their annual spring game at 1 p.m. inside Jack Trice Stadium. There’s a number of storylines to keep tabs on during the game, but here are five players I’m especially intrigued to see on the field.
Joel Lanning – Redshirt Senior – Linebacker
Everybody knows Lanning’s story. The Ankeny-native started nine games under center for the Cyclones last season before seeing Jacob Park take over the starting role. He has moved to the defensive side the ball during spring practice and has drawn rave reviews from Matt Campbell, Jon Heacock and Tyson Viedt.
Lanning has the physical makeup and athleticism to excel at the linebacker position, but there will still be an adjustment period after switching sides of the ball. It will be interesting to see how he has settled in at linebacker before the team breaks for summer.
Sheldon Croney – Redshirt Sophomore – Running back
Croney is a guy that might’ve fit into the rotation as a true freshman if not for a freak accident that led to a gunshot wound on his hand. Once he was available to play, Mike Warren had emerged as a stud plus David Montgomery and Kene Nwangwu were on campus ready to fill immediate roles.
With Nwangwu’s status for the season in doubt, the 5-foot-11-inch, 205-pound back has a chance to step into a role as the Cyclones’ third running back. He hasn’t gotten many chances to showcase his skills for the fans since arriving in Ames, but Saturday might give him some solid opportunities to do so.
Ray Lima – Redshirt Sophomore – Defensive Tackle
Lima was one of the most highly touted JUCO defensive linemen in the country last season and he will likely make an impact immediately in the fall. It will be tough to fully evaluate Lima’s talent in a spring game, but it will be good to just get eyes on one of the jewels of the Cyclones’ class.
Chase Allen – Redshirt Freshman – Tight End
Allen is another player that might’ve been able to fill a role immediately upon stepping on campus, but a series of events that included illness and being hit by a car set his development back enough to make redshirting the best option. The 6-foot-6-inch, 230-pound Nixa, Mo. native is expected to add another dangerous weapon to Iowa State’s offense.
It has been several years since the Cyclones had a true threat to catch the ball at the tight end position but that’s going to change once Allen hits the field.
Jalen Martin – Redshirt Freshman – Wide Receiver
Anytime Campbell or other members of the staff were asked about young guys sticking out last season, Martin’s name was sure to be brought up. Iowa State’s receiving corp is as deep as its ever been, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 6-foot-3-inch, 205-pound Detroit-native find a niche in the group this fall.