Oct 27, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders wide receiver Ja’Deion High (88) is tackled by Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Greg Eisworth (12) at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Red Raiders 40-31. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Move over Bruce Banner. And Tony Stark. And maybe even Peter Parker.
There’s a new Avenger of sorts entering the pseudo Marvel Universe and it happens to be ISU standout safety Greg Eisworth.
“Just his mentality is very unique,” Cyclone assistant coach D.K. McDonald said. “He gets on that field and he’s a different guy. I know you’ll probably interview him and he’ll have a smile on his face, but when he gets on that field, man, he’s like the Incredible Hulk. Something changes in him. That’s really fun to see, so when you see a guy with that type of intensity, that type of football knowledge, that type of work ethic, you know that they can do something mixed in with the physical skill that they have.”
Eisworth, the Big 12’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year and first team all-conference selection, doesn’t disagree with his origin story, yet he is committed to redefine it.
His journey initially took him to Ole Miss and the SEC, but he regrouped at Trinity Valley Community College and joined Coach Matt Campbell’s Cyclone squad last season.
“For me, I’m my biggest critic,” the 6-0, 198-pound Eisworth said. “So accolades, I’m obviously humbled and honored to receive the accolades, but at the same time, I know better than anyone else what I need to improve on. So it’s kind of like staying steady with that stuff. I don’t let a negative critique bring me down nor a positive critique over-hype myself, so I just kind of stay in neutral.”
Except when it comes to the “Hulk” moments. One occurred during last spring — the first scrimmage, he recalled — and turned the heads of his teammates.
“I think kind of when everyone was like, ‘Wow,’ he can play was when one of our receivers caught a ball down the sideline (in spring practice 2018) and they’re both running to the end zone, and on the one-yard line, Greg just lit him up,” fellow standout safety Braxton Lewis said. “That’s kind of when everyone was like, ‘We’ve got a player right here and I want to get to know him’ kind of deal.”
They got to know him all right.
Eisworth led the Cyclones in total tackles at 7.3 in his first season. He beat himself up over a missed tackle on Trey Sermon in the 10-point loss to Oklahoma, but garnered a great deal of respect from his teammates throughout his first season at ISU.
“He just keeps getting better and he brings that energy,” Lewis said. “If you watch his film, every day, every play, every down, all that, I mean, he’s a guy that’s gonna bring it and you’d better watch out for him.”
Even in leisure time at on-campus apartments.
Eisworth plays for keeps — on the football field, or a well-balanced coffee table.
“It could literally be anything and we’re competing against each other, so it’s a lot of fun,” Eisworth said.
One of those “anythings:” A classic board game called “Sequence.”
Eisworth approaches a round of play just as he does facing down long, lean and athletic Big 12 receivers, or powerful running backs..
“He’s a competitor at the end of the day,” Lewis said. “We play board games at his house and he’ll compete just as hard and that’s what we all love about him. He’s gonna try to win every single thing he does.”
That’s what superheroes do. They don’t flinch (much). They tackle the task at hand — micro and macro — with alacrity and vision.
“You saw what he can do out there in the first year,” McDonald said. “The great thing about Greg, he really wasn’t satisfied at all with the type of year he had. You talk to him and he’d just think it was an OK year to be (Big 12 defensive) Newcomer of the year, first team all-conference. He really did a great job, but the sky’s the limit for him. What I’m excited about is to see his leadership, to see how he’s taken over for those guys who graduated as just the leader of the group, the energy for the group. That’s been really fun and taking those young guys underneath his wing. That’s been the biggest growth I’ve seen out of Greg. He’s always been a great talent and a great kid, but now he’s become a great leader for us and filling a void that we had in our secondary.”