Sept. 9, 2017. Jake Hummel makes a tackle during Iowa State’s loss to Iowa. MANDATORY CREDIT: USA Today’s Reese Strickland
After Iowa State’s first two games, most of the talk surrounding the team has centered on the exploits of David Montgomery, Allen Lazard, Hakeem Butler and Jacob Park. The playmaking abilities of Marcel Spears, JaQuan Bailey and Ray Lima have been big talking points also.
In Saturday’s 44-41 loss to Iowa, several new faces were given an opportunity to shine in their own ways, but they have flown under the radar — until now.
JUCO transfer Matt Eaton caught his first two passes as a Cyclone for 39 yards and redshirt freshman tight end Chase Allen made his first collegiate reception during overtime.
“I thought that was another thing I took from the game and I actually started our staff meeting off yesterday, there were some guys that really came into the fold and I think you’re going to see that as this season goes on because we feel like we’ve got a lot of pieces,” said Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell during his weekly press conference on Monday. “There’s only so many reps in a game sometimes and so many plays that you try to play the right pieces at the right time. Matt Eaton was fantastic. I thought some of those catches he made over the middle and being able to go up and get the ball, he’s a big target. I think you guys saw a little bit what I was talking about that he did some really nice things in the game. I think he continued to to pour him reps. He’s finally healthy, which is great.
“Chase Allen, I told him yesterday in the stretch line, how about your first catch in overtime? Great time to have it. Glad you caught the ball, first of all. I thought you were going to score though to make it a little easier. That play and then there was that play on David’s run, he scores, incredible block Incredible effort block. He make the block on the Sam linebacker that springs it. Obviously David’s extra effort at the goal line was special but Chase Allen is going to be a really special football player. We’ve just got to temper, it’s gotta come all in growth process, He’s done a really good job. I was really proud of him. Played a really great game. I thought some really good things to happen for us. And there’s still some guys. Deshaunte (Jones) did a nice job. I think you’ll see him continue to come into the mix. Trever (Ryen)‘s playing well. There’s 11 guys that can be on the field at one time and it’s nice to have that problem right now and nice to continue to develop that in our program.”
Those three are not the only new faces starting to push their way into the mix for more playing time. True freshmen Richard Bowens made his collegiate debut against Iowa. Johnnie Lang’s name continues to come up as a possible playmaker in the return game and prompted Campbell to say, “Johnnie needs to play more football for us,” on Monday.
True freshman linebacker Jake Hummel has even earned playing time as he recorded two special teams tackles against the Hawkeyes. In fact, that might not be the short-term ceiling for the Dowling product as he continues to improve during his first season in Ames.
“Jake is a guy from the day he stepped on our campus just had a sense of maturity in terms of who he is, his football awareness, his conditioning,” Campbell said. “We’ve kind of been slow-feeding him a lot of roles and reps. I’ll be honest with you, he was on our scout kickoff team and our scot kickoff return team, and he’s making all the tackles and he’s doing a really good job, and it’s like, we’ve got to get this guy on the field. He’s got to play football for us. He’s ready. Had two tackles in Saturday’s game, did some really good things. I think the evolution is we start to feed him some reps at linebacker as well. I think you’ll see that. Great sense of maturity from an elite high school football program, great high school football coach, knows what it takes to be successful. I think that’s really given him a step ahead of some of the other freshman as he’s continued his development.”
The names listed to start are almost certainly going to keep grabbing the headlines as this season rolls on. Most of them are too good to be overlooked.
While that group of guys get most of the pub, a fresh group of playmakers will be cultivated in the wings.