Nov 27, 2020; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive back Chris Brown (15) makes a tackle against Iowa State Cyclones tight end Dylan Soehner (89) as he gets the first down late in the fourth quarter during an NCAA college football game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY NETWORK
If you weren’t already off-the-charts excited (and you were) about the prospects for Iowa State football this fall, former stud tight end Dylan Soehner recently offered more fuel for the hype-stoked fire.
Soehner — who’s now training in Nashville in advance of the NFL Draft — provided insight on what to expect from the 2021 Cyclones during a recent interview with Cyclone Fanatic publisher Chris Williams.
And if you haven’t already listened (do it now), prepare to be floored.
“I think a lot of fans are going to be surprised (by) that Iowa State team that takes the field (this) fall,” Soehner said.
Surprised in a good way, of course. But why?
Because ISU second-year Director of Strength and Conditioning Director Dave Andrews and his staff will be able to provide the Cyclones’ current players with a full offseason of more personal training guidance.
Last season, Andrews — like everyone — was hamstrung by the COVID-19 pandemic, but still had a major impact on ISU’s historic 9-3 season that ended in the program’s first New Year’s Six bowl triumph.
This season, Andrews’ universally-respected approach to both mental and physical peak performance, as well as injury prevention, will likely be offered in a much more hands-on and face-to-face manner, which is obviously a win-win.
“He focuses a lot on tendon and ligament health,” said Soehner, who has been invited to late April’s NFL Combine. “Keep guys healthy for the long run. The season’s long. (It’s) been really good. We see less hamstrings and things like that with a lot of stuff that they’re doing. The guy knows what he’s doing. They’re paying him a lot of money for a reason.”
Last season, Soehner said, Andrews and his staff were forced to improvise workout plans for homebound student-athletes. He said his consisted of three-hour resistance band workouts, which is a far cry from what’s available at the well-stocked Bergstrom Football Complex.
Still, Andrews’ presence — even remotely much of the time — paid dividends in his first season in Ames.
“It felt like a fresh change,” Soehner said. “I think he’s one of the best around. Being around these pro trainers I’m around now, they respect the guy, look up to the guy. He’s, like, well-known, obviously, so like I said, I think the team coming in next fall, (it’s) gonna surprise a lot of people.”
Soehner will obviously keep tabs in the 2021 ‘Clones from afar — and hopefully while donning an NFL team’s uniform.
Two-time All-American Charlie Kolar returns. So does All-Big 12 standout Chase Allen, along with a host of promising younger ISU tight ends headlined by converted quarterback Easton Dean.
“I think those (young) guys made huge strides this last season,” Soehner said. “I think having the offseason this year will help them, too. Easton, he’s a great player. He’s an incredible athlete. And obviously coming from quarterback isn’t easy, so it’s taken some time for him, but he’s definitely figuring it out. And different from what Chase and I had, he had three great examples to follow and kind of learn from that have real game experience — that have played well. I think that is kind of expediting the process a little bit for those younger guys. We didn’t have anybody to (ask), ‘Hey, how do we do this?’ Or, ‘What’s this like in a game?’ It’s really hard to replicate certain things (and) what it’s actually going to be like. So we were kind of guessing for a while. I think that’s a big thing for those young guys, too.”
That’s true for tight ends and across the board — and from both mental and physical standpoints. Hence the hype. Hence Soehner’s bold proclamation that the best (and biggest) Cyclone season may be yet to come.
That “player-led” program head coach Matt Campbell always touts as necessary in the journey from “laughingstock” to elite? It’s fully here.
“It’s so different, man. We’ve got so many different players,” Soehner said. “But we were able to just buy-in, right? And our first day on campus was coach Campbell was boss. Coach Campbell was setting the rules and everyone was following him. Now, coach Campbell is just kind of like there and makes the schedule. And the players do everything. I think that’s kind of what makes the program what it is. I’d say it was, like, 90% Campbell-led, 10% player-led at the beginning. Now you talk about 90% player-led, 10% Campbell-led. That’s when you get a really good football team.”