Sep 3, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery (32) hurdles Northern Iowa Panthers defensive back Jamison Whiting (29) during the first half at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — David Montgomery has drawn rave reviews from coaches and players since arriving in Ames a little more than a year ago.
The Cincinnati, Ohio native has proven those reviews to be true since bursting onto the scene at the tail-end of his true freshman campaign last year.
While Montgomery has shown to be a force on the field, including earning a spot on Pro Football Focus’ All-Big 12 week one team after his 83 yard, two touchdown performance in the Cyclones’ season-opening win over Northern Iowa, it has been his work behind-the-scenes that has drawn comparisons to another great collegiate running back — former Toledo star, and current Kansas City Chiefs rookie, Kareem Hunt.
“The biggest thing for me is just their maturity and ability to play at an early age,” said Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, who coached Hunt in Toledo. “David had to do that last year for us in a really similar role to what Kareem did. We had David Fluellen Kareem’s freshman and David got dinged up kind of the mid-point of the season. Kareem was actually playing on the scout team, to be honest with you, the first five games of the season and then we decided to put him in. David’s in kind of that same boat a little bit so I think their maturity and their understanding how to dictate the pace of the game at a young age is really, really big. Those guys both have the ability to do that. I’ve said David is kind of an all-around back, Kareem kind of elite speed that kind of came with that power as well. It’s kind of unique to see both of those guys and I think they both have the same mindset. They’re both really driven to be elite. Those are neat things to see from two guys we’ve had the opportunity to work with.”
Montgomery first started to truly make his presence felt when he took over the job as the Cyclones’ starting tailback last year. He earned honorable mention freshman All-American honors after rushing for 563 yards on 109 carries, including averaging 113.7 yards per game and 6.1 yards per carry in the team’s last three contests.
The former three-star recruit, who chose the Cyclones over offers from Illinois, Purdue, Indiana and others, showed flashes of just how good he can be during the team’s win last week. It was Montgomery’s three consecutive runs, ending in an eight-yard touchdown scamper, late in the second quarter that sparked Iowa State’s offense on the way to the 42-24 victory at Jack Trice Stadium.
Montgomery, a former high school quarterback, was able to put the team on his back much like Hunt did during his four seasons as a Rocket.
“It’s definitely an honor to be compared to Kareem Hunt,” Montgomery said after practice on Wednesday. “He’s a great player. Obviously, he’s in the NFL right now starting so it’s definitely an honor for me to be compared to Kareem.”
— CycloneFanatic.com (@cyclonefanatic) September 6, 2017
Obviously, Montgomery and the Iowa State offense have a new kind of challenge in the form of in-state rival Iowa’s highly-touted defensive front seven. The Hawkeyes held Wyoming to just 59 yards on 30 carries in their 24-3 win at Kinnick Stadium last weekend.
If Montgomery’s dogged preparation is any indication, there is little doubt the 5-foot-11, 219-pound sophomore is up for the challenge.
“There’s definitely a routine. I try to watch a lot of film, or I don’t try, I watch a lot of film,” Montgomery said about his preparation process. “Making sure I know my opponent to the best of my ability that I can know them. I pray. Can’t go wrong with prayer. Prayer comes first and faith in God comes before all. That’s how I look at it.”
They said it
*** Campbell on the growth of Iowa State’s offensive line.
“I think those guys just continue to grow together and work together even though they had spring practice and fall camp together now you get to get under the lights and see yourself,” Campbell said. “But I thought in the game they did some really positive things. I thought pass protection wise was certainly positive. I thought at times started to really take over the game in the running game, which we haven’t really done here. That was great to see, but again you’re talking about a total different challenge this week in a really dynamic front seven.”
*** Campbell on the availability of sophomore defensive tackle Jamahl Johnson, who missed the season opener with a high ankle sprain, for Saturday’s game against the Hawkeyes.
“I’d say he’s still kind of day-to-day in his operations,” Campbell said. “He’s certainly practiced which has been a really positive for us. It’s just a matter of where he’s at by the time we get to Saturday will be really, really important. But it would be great to have that body and certainly his ability to help us on the defensive line and to be able to have fresh bodies would be huge for us.”
*** Campbell on the rise of redshirt freshman Carson Lensing to the spot as the Cyclones’ backup on the depth chart behind senior J.D. Waggoner at defensive end.
“Carson’s a guy that, to be honest with you, it was like my second visit when I got the job,” Campbell said. “I remember Friday night I went up and watched him play basketball. He was committed and I went and saw him play a basketball game. I think the thing about Carson that I always loved, especially when I first went and saw him play basketball, is he’s a great competitor. Now, he wasn’t a great basketball player, but he was a really good competitor that night. I really, really appreciated that from him. Everything you get from Carson is everything he has every day. I think that’s allowed him and that’s kind of our mentality, it’s what we’ve tried to preach here in our program. He’s been able to embody that. I think you’ve just seen him really flourish in our program in a year and a half. Again, you’re talking about a guy playing mike linebacker and playing running back that’s trying to understand how to play defensive end with great consistency. But I’m really proud of Carson. You go out to practice and he’s the same guy everyday and obviously it’s why he’s been able to move up the depth chart.”