FOOTBALL PREVIEW: True freshman you’re most excited to watch

In another piece of a 10-part series previewing the Iowa State football season, Chris Williams, Jared Stansbury, Jeff Woody Brent Blum and Connor Ferguson dive into Iowa State’s schedule and name the true freshman they’re most excited about going into the 2022 season.

Chris Williams: A very difficult question to answer. I think wide receiver Greg Gaines will get the most votes here. I’ll go with linebacker Will McLaughlin. I think there’s a very real possibility that he’s on the two-deep at linebacker as a true freshman when the season kicks off in September. It feels like he could be the next great Iowa State linebacker. He comes in at 6-foot-4, 230-pounds and already has a spring season behind him. I like this kid a lot. 

Jared Stansbury: I think this is a pretty strong split between Greg Gaines and Cartevious Norton.

Gaines made some plays during the open spring practices that were eye-popping. He’s got through the roof potential and could work his way into the mix with a deep group of receivers behind Xavier Hutchinson and Jaylin Noel.

Norton’s situation feels very similar to the one Breece Hall walked into three years ago. A bunch of veteran guys in front of him, but no true bell-cow tailback who demands the majority of the carries. If Jirehl Brock, Deon Silas or Eli Sanders doesn’t seize control of that job by midseason, don’t be shocked to see Norton quickly become a standout in the offense.

Brent Blum: Greg Gaines has the ability to make an immediate impact and by all accounts has hit the ground running in Ames. The Tampa native picked Iowa State over the likes of Georgia, Auburn, Florida State, Miami among others with the goal to play right away and there’s no question he will.

Jeff Woody: Piggybacking off of the intriguing player conversation from early in the series, I am excited to see Cartevious Norton get on the field. He has apparently been absolutely a stud (so has Greg Gaines). And when this staff pegs a guy as a stud, he usually turns out alright. 

Connor Ferguson: We only got a couple of looks at the early arrivals this spring and I’m not a big fan of trying to compare guys’ highlights against random high school competition, but no one impressed me quite as much as Cartevious Norton.

He’s a powerful running back and showed his potential during those practices, playing alongside Gaines and Rocco Becht. I think with this coaching staff’s track record with running backs, he’s the guy I’ll be the most amped up to see.

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.