The David Montgomery Express is gaining speed as Memphis trip nears

Oct 14, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery (32) runs away from the Kansas Jayhawks defense in the second quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

AMES — With each swift step, he churns out more power.

With each sharp cut, he grows even shiftier.

And as the final practices wind down toward Iowa State’s Dec. 30 Liberty Bowl date with No. 19 Memphis, the Cyclones’ star  tailback David Montgomery’s smile — and devotion to greatness — broadens.

“To be honest I don’t know half of the stuff that I do,” said Montgomery, who pronounced himself 100 percent healthy earlier this month after being dinged up late in the regular season. “I just know that I do it. I just thank God that I’m able to do it and (my body is) able to move the way it does, but you know, it just happens.”

That’s why accolades and awards are a mere trifle — if that — to the 1,000-yard sophomore back.

Montgomery shrugged when asked how much he took in being the new single-season record holder in forced missed tackles (104), as tabulated by Pro Football Focus since 2011.

It’s almost like it doesn’t matter because … well … it doesn’t.

So what if former Florida State star and current Minnesota Viking Dalvin Cook happened to hold the old record (with 89 forced misses)? Big names don’t dazzle Montgomery. Only achieving big goals does.

“It’s cool but I’m still not the No. 1 back in the nation,” said Montgomery, who rushed for 1,094 yards this season while scoring 11 touchdowns. “So I look at myself like that means nothing and will never mean anything until I’m where I need to be. And when I finally get to where I want to be, where I need to be, I’m going to push myself to go beyond that limit.”

Where might his outermost limit reside?

“Only time can tell,” Montgomery said.

To wit: Montgomery’s been focusing on improving his overall speed as he preps for Memphis.

Shaving split seconds off his already-good 40 time will only enhance his bracing, bruising and take-no-prisoners running style that was characterized as “violent” by ISU quarterback Kyle Kempt.

Seems aprop.

“I want to just get faster,” Montgomery said “That’s something I can work on. That’s my main thing I want to work on, is being able to get my knee drive, and being able to get faster.”

Then, look out.

Ironically enough, Montgomery’s conjuring more speed while the game continues to slow down for him — on the field and off if it.

As a high-performing freshmen last season, he felt like there were figurative “bullets flying everywhere.”

Associate head coach/running game coordinator Lou Ayeni told him that would happen less and less as his reps increased and “coach Lou” was right.

“It’s kind of like a video game almost,” Montgomery said. “When you first get the video game, like ‘Call of Duty’ — when you first get ‘Call of Duty’ you’re getting killed all over. But then you start learning different ins and outs of it and, ‘OK, I can camp,’ or ‘I can quickscope,’ or I can just do a whole lot of other fun things so I feel like when it slows down, the game definitely gets a lot funner.”

Fast. Slow. At any speed, Montgomery’s progress throttles forward — even if he doesn’t “know half the stuff” he does to impress both locally and nationally on the field.

“It ain’t that I’m not thinking about it at all, it’s just kind of like when it’s happening, it’s just, ‘Oh, I just did that,’” Montgomery said. “‘OK. Go do it again. Go do it again. Do it some more. Do it faster. Do it better.’ You know, because there’s always room to improve.”


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.