NOTEBOOK: Observations from Iowa State’s open practice in Ames

(Jacqueline Cordova, Cyclone Fanatic Photo. Hunter Dekkers takes a snap on Friday, April 1 at Ames High School.)

AMES — We’re in the thick of spring football. Iowa State held its first of three open practices on Friday at Ames High School.

While it wasn’t a typical ‘spring game,’ Cyclone fans in attendance still got their first look at a very different football team compared to the one they’ve seen in recent years.

Some observations from Friday below:

Dekkers and Hutchinson share chemistry

Iowa State redshirt-sophomore quarterback Hunter Dekkers is set to be the starting quarterback in the 2022 season. He took first-team reps on Friday.

Dekkers completed a touchdown pass to Xavier Hutchinson during the scrimmage portion of practice. See video below.

“(Dekkers) has really grown through the early part of spring practice,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “The biggest thing I want is growth and obviously when you’ve got a guy like (Dekkers) that has game-proof and success, you certainly want to see how he grows.”

Multitude of quarterbacks get snaps from scrimmage

Iowa State showed looks from five different quarterbacks during the final portion of the practice.

On top of Dekkers, freshman Rocco Becht, sophomore Aidan Bouman, Iowa Western transfer Nate Glantz and redshirt freshman Ashton Cook each got at least one drive on the day.

Campbell said that was a first for practices thus far, of which are already halfway through for the spring season.

“Some of these other (quarterbacks), man, to get live reps today, you’re talking with some of it being the first time they’ve ever gotten live reps with the way its been,” Campbell said. “I think you just want to see growth happen right now. We’re really not doing a lot, schematically, with the football. We just want to see guys, fundamentally.”

Rocco Becht solid from scrimmage

Of the quarterbacks that took snaps, Becht and his group were the first to put the ball into the red-zone on the day. With freshmen slotted at the running back and wideout spots, Becht proved to be solid as the afternoon went on.

“(Becht) had a really good day today,” Campbell said. “I’m certainly glad he got here early. I feel like that really benefited him.”

Cartevious Norton getting a majority of second-string reps

Becht’s running back on the drive was another 2022 recruit in Cartevious Norton, who took the most second-string snaps from scrimmage. Norton boasts a big body, standing at 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, and looks to be a force an offense that utilizes multiple running backs beyond its starter.

Greg Gaines impressing the receiver room

The receiver that most ran with Becht’s group on that drive was a fellow Florida freshman in Greg Gaines. The wideout caught a 30-yard pass from Becht and has been proving himself to other receivers on the roster.

“Greg is an explosive receiver,” senior Xavier Hutchinson said during his post-practice interviews. “You saw that in is highlight tape and you see it more on the field. He’s becoming more adjusted to the college speed each day. There’s no potential to him – I think he can go as far (in his football career as he wants.”

The offensive line first group at the moment

With all of the hype surrounding Iowa State’s offensive line going into last season, injuries and substitutions dominated the storylines during the year. The group that took the field on Friday certainly isn’t guaranteed to be the first-team guys for week 1, but it’s where the Cyclones stand now.

Redshirt senior Trevor Downing lined up at center. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Miller at left tackle and redshirt junior Jarrod Hufford at left guard. Two-time letter-winners Darrell Simmons Jr. and Jake Remsburg took snaps at right guard and right tackle, respectively.

Campbell spoke specifically about Downing at length during his post-practice interview.

“I think for (Downing), I would say (center) is his natural position,” Campbell said. “I think he’s got a chance to be one of the elite interior linemen in all of college football. I think you saw really happen a year ago and then you go to the Clemson game and saw how the offense came together. You saw how the offense came together – I think a lot of that was because of (Downing).”

Freddie Walker working with Trevon Howard

Iowa State’s assistant director of strength & conditioning took freshman defensive back Trevon Howard aside multiple times during the practice. The pair got some extra drills in while there was less action taking place on the field.

Delaware transfer Colby Reeder playing at the Sam LB spot

Transferring from Delaware, Colby Reeder has been a part of four different defenses in his college career. According to Campbell, Reeder will play at the Sam linebacker position for the time being.

“I think sometimes there’s some positivity to that, too,” Campbell said of the defenses Reeder has faced. “Sometimes, there’s only so many defenses out there. I think he’s got wisdom. One of the things that helped him is being able to adjust so fast. I think he’s got a great understanding of what the expectation is and what it looks like. We’re starting him out at that Sam linebacker spot.”

Deon Silas out for spring

Sophomore running back Deon Silas likely won’t participate in a spring practice during the rest of the allotted days for activity for the team.

He was walking at practice with a limp and Campbell said afterwards that he probably won’t return to the field with only six practices remaining for the spring season.

What’s Next

Iowa State will host a group of prospects this weekend in its second of three visit periods it had planned through the spring. After the last wave, the Cyclones landed two commitments in the days following.

The program will also host its second open practice on Friday, April 8 at Gilbert High School.