NOTEBOOK: Position battles, linebackers and quarterbacks

Jul 16, 2018; Frisco, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell speaks to the media during Big 12 football media days at the Ford Center at the Star. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

AMES — Matt Campbell met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to preview Iowa State’s fall camp, which officially gets underway on the practice field Friday morning. Here are a few notes on the highlights from the press conference.

Three position battles standing out

While a lot more positions are solidified entering fall camp than in Campbell’s first two seasons in Ames, there are still three positions that stick out to Iowa State’s head coach as question marks entering Friday’s practices.

“I think number one, the offensive line, how does that shake out,” Cambell said. “I think we talked a little bit about it at Big 12 Media Day, one of the things for me that I am excited about is there’s more names and there’s more guys that deserve to be mentioned that are fighting for those spots. But, you know, the five starters, who are they? I couldn’t tell you that right now. That’s going to unfold itself over the next three weeks.”

“I think the linebacker spot, who are the three guys that start the game there? I think that’s still a little bit fluid as we enter the season, especially with Reggen Northrup and O’Rien Vance are certainly in hot competition for that right now. Both guys have really done great things and it’s great to have some talks there.”

“Then safety, who earns the right to be the starter at safety a little bit? I think we feel really comfortable with what Greg Eisworth did but certainly, the rest of that group and some of those young guys have really improved and it will be fun competition through the fall to watch what unfolds there as well.”

What is he looking for at linebacker?

Northrup, Vance and sophomore Jake Hummel are all players who have drawn rave reviews from Campbell in the past. He said consistency is the biggest thing he’s looking for from his three starters at the second level of the defense.

To me, it’s just consistency at any of those positions,” Campbell said. “I’ll have this speech tomorrow for my football team, we’ll play who I trust. That aspect of it is really becomes earning that over the next  couple weeks and earning that through what they’ve done over the last six months.”

“It so happens that (Northrup and Vance) have really stuck out because they’re two guys, that’s what’s great about having competition now in your football program where it brings the best out of everybody. I think that group is unique. It’s the consistency, especially at mike linebacker, that guy’s got to not only be a consistent performer but that guy also has to be a consistent leader on that football field. He’s got to be a great communicator and he’s got to set the tone. It starts usually at that mike linebacker spot.”

Best QB room of Campbell’s tenure

There is little debate as to who Iowa State’s starting quarterback will be when they take the field on Sept. 1. It would be shocking to see someone besides Kyle Kempt behind center to start the season, but the fact of the matter remains it has been nearly a decade since one quarterback started all 12 games for Iowa State.

On the bright side, Campbell thinks this is his best group of quarterbacks in Ames to date.

In two years, we’ve played a million quarterbacks. Do I want to do that? I don’t know, but I’m definitely, we’ll do whatever’s best for the football team to be successful. It just so happens, in my opinion, I really think that room is as good as its been since I’ve been here.”

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.