Cyclone Fanatic’s 2017 Iowa State football awards

Sep 9, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery (32) runs for a first down against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Jack Trice Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 44-41 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most successful seasons in the history of Iowa State football has come to a close and never has it seemed more appropriate to unveil our first Cyclone Fanatic Football Awards.

As voted on by our primary football contributors, myself, Chris Williams, Rob Gray, Brent Blum, Jay Jordan, Jeff Woody, Kirk Haaland and Kevin Fitzpatrick, we have selected offensive and defensive MVPs, a newcomer of the year, a play of the year, an unsung hero, a surprise player of the year and the team MVP.

Each contributor was asked to list in order from 1-3 their top choices for each award with first place being worth 10 points, second worth seven points and third worth five points. In some instances, the balloting was rather predictable, but in others, it was a little surprising.

Offensive MVP – David Montgomery, Running back

There were several legitimate options for the Cyclones’ most valuable offensive player in 2017, but could it really ever be anyone besides the sophomore tailback from Cincinnati? Montgomery compiled 1,146 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on 258 carries plus another 296 yards receiving on 36 receptions.

Montgomery’s 108 missed tackles forced set a new FBS record, according to Pro Football Focus dating back to 2014. He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection and a first-team All-American by PFF.

The voting – Total ballot points (first-place votes)

1. Montgomery – 77 (7)

2. Allen Lazard – 52 (1)

3. Kyle Kempt – 25

4. Marchie Murdock – 12

T-5. Hakeem Butler – 5

T-5. Jake Campos – 5

Defensive MVP – Ray Lima, Defensive Tackle

Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the bunch while compiling the ballots, Lima’s first of two honors comes as the team’s defensive MVP. Lima recorded 25 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries in his first season anchoring the Iowa State defense.

Th 6-foot-3, 306-pound El Camino C.C. product was named an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection and was heralded by teammates and coaches as one of the biggest reasons for the Cyclones’ defensive turnaround in 2017.

Full disclosure – This balloting was also thrown off with half-points by Jeff freaking Woody apparently thinking he can include four players on his ballot instead of three. (insert eye roll emoji here)

The voting

1. Lima – 57.5 (5)

2. Brian Peavy – 51.5 (2)

3. Joel Lanning – 24 (1)

4. Marcel Spears – 22

5. Kamari Cotton-Moya – 14

6. D’Andre Payne – 7

Unsung Hero – JD Waggoner, Defensive End

While teammates and coaches alike have called Lima the team’s unsung hero, the Cyclone Fanatic staff has latched on to the Cyclones’ high-kicking, high-motor, playmaking defensive end.

Waggoner recorded 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass breakup in his breakout senior season while earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. His 13.5 tackles for loss is good for 10th all-time in program history for a single-season.

One of the emotional leaders of Iowa State’s defense, there is little doubt the 6-foot-3, 248-pound Dallas-native saved the best for last in his Cyclone career.

The voting

1. Waggoner – 40 (3)

2. Jake Campos – 33

3. Trever Ryen – 30 (2)

4. D’Andre Payne – 21

5. Vernell Trent – 17 (1)

T-6. Sam Seonbuchner – 10 (1)

T-6. Marcel Spears – 10 (1)

T-8. D’Monte Ruth – 5

T-8. Garrett Owens – 5

Newcomer of the Year – Ray Lima, Defensive Tackle


This was the least surprising result of all seven awards we voted on. Lima should have drawn heavy consideration for not only our newcomer of the year in 2017, but the Big 12’s and it comes as no shock he was our unanimous winner.

Full Disclosure – The voting here was slightly skewed again by Jay Jordan being what he calls a “Lima-tic” and listing Ray in all three spots on his ballot. This was very scientific stuff, clearly.

The voting

1. Lima – 80 (8)**

2. Garrett Owens (42)

3. Reggie Wilkerson (37)

4. Josh Knipfel (5)

** – Unanimous selection

Surprise Player of the Year – Kyle Kempt, Quarterback

Possibly not only the biggest surprise for Iowa State this season, but one of the biggest surprises in all of college football. The Cyclones’ honorable mention All-Big 12 quarterback went from walk-on to upsetting the No. 3 team in the country on the road to being the subject of a College Gameday feature to upsetting the No. 4 team in the country at home… in one month.

It was a Cinderella story nobody could have predicted before the season started. After attempting two passes at three schools in four years, Kempt threw for 1,787 yards, 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions in (possibly) his final collegiate season.

His 66.26 percent completion rate is a single-season record as is his 145.93 quarterback rating. Kempt was the most narrow of all our winners, but the most deserving if you ask this voter.

The voting

1. Kempt – 57 (4)

2. Marcel Spears – 53 (2)

3. Marchie Murdock – 32 (1)

4. Joel Lanning – 22 (1)

5. Vernell Trent – 12

Play of the Year – Allen Lazard’s game-winning touchdown catch from Kyle Kempt against No. 3 Oklahoma

The play will live in Cyclone lore forever. It was a walk-on making his first career start connecting with one of the most decorated players in program history. It effectively ended a 26-year losing streak to one of college football’s most respected blue-bloods.

In a season chalk-full of remarkable plays, it will surely always stand above the rest. Five, 10 or 15 years from now, I’m confident most ever Cyclone fan who witnessed it will be able to tell you exactly where they were and who they were with when they watched it happen.

“A catch for the touchdown by Allen Lazard!” – John Walters, The Godfather

Full disclosure – More half points and one single point were given due to Brent Blum listing two plays in the three spot and Jeff Woody’s sudden inclusion of an honorable mention. Like I said, really scientific.

The voting

1. Lazard’s game-winner vs. Oklahoma – 65 (6)

2. Marcel Spears’ game-sealing interception vs. TCU – 31.5

3. David Montgomery’s pile-driving TD vs. Iowa – 31

4. Hakeem Butler’s one-handed, tackle-breaking touchdown vs. Baylor – 27

5. D’Andre Payne’s interception vs. West Virginia – 7

6. Lazard’s one-handed touchdown from Joel Lanning vs. Oklahoma State – 5

7. Brian Peavy’s strip near the goal line vs. Baylor – 2.5

8. Trever Ryen’s punt return touchdown vs. Kansas – 1

Team MVP – David Montgomery, Running back

Like almost all of these awards, this one could have gone several different ways, but it is hard to argue the conclusion the voters reached. Montgomery put together one of the most successful sophomore campaigns in school history and is well on his way to being one of the best running backs to ever wear cardinal and gold.

He is already one of the best in the Big 12, will enter next season on the shortlist for the best running back in the nation and any Iowa State fan will be quick to tell you he should be on the long list for Heisman Trophy consideration.

Add Cyclone Fanatic Team MVP to David Montgomery’s long list of honors received in 2017 (or… uh… his first of 2018… I forgot to mention I was going to write this like three weeks ago).

The voting

1. Montgomery – 63

2. Joel Lanning – 57

3. Allen Lazard – 32

4. Ray Lima – 14

5. Brian Peavy – 10

My only regret from this process is that Joel Lanning and Allen Lazard didn’t receive a single award (not including play of the year due to it being more of a team award).

For that reason, I have created two other awards called the Heart and Soul Award and the Contributions to the Program Award.

Since our panel didn’t really vote on winners for these awards, I won’t declare Lanning and Lazard winners. That said, I did come up with each award to be voted on.

That’s why they will be called the Joel Lanning Heart and Soul Award and the Allen Lazard Contributions to the Program Award (both presented by Cyclone Fanatic (because, ya know, branding)) beginning in the 2018 voting cycle.

Call them winners for this season if you want. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter. They’re the only ones who got their own awards out of this whole deal.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.