FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Breakout player

Oct 23, 2021; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Beau Freyler (17) and defensive tackle Isaiah Lee (93) celebrate a stop against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second half at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

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 each select a player they’re expecting a breakout season from in 2022.

Chris Williams: I’ll go with sophomore wide receiver Jaylin Noel. He was good as a freshman, catching 38 balls for a modest 265 yards. But with all of that experience at tight end moving on and a quarterback that will likely throw downfield a lot more, receptions and yards have to go somewhere. Nothing against Jirehl Brock, but Breece Hall isn’t there to just hand the ball off to anymore. Iowa State needs to create offense somehow and Jaylin Noel’s role increasing in a big way makes a lot of sense to me.

Jared Stansbury: My pick might have already had his breakout moment when he recorded a team-high 15 tackles during the Cheez-It Bowl, but sophomore safety Beau Freyler seems poised to become a star in his second season on the film. The Colorado Springs native split snaps for the majority of last season and ended up an honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection by the league’s coaches anyway. There’s won’t be much snap splitting going on for Freyler anymore. He’ll be one of the “guys” at safety and a stellar sophomore year could make him one of the best safeties in the Big 12.

Jeff Woody: Anthony Johnson. It’s weird to say that about one of the best players in the conference, but somehow no one outside of Ames knows about this guy. He’s a brilliant defender, a perfectly-sized safety, and a leader on the team. He is positioned to actually get some interceptions or fumble recoveries that show up in the stat sheet, as opposed to his “never get thrown at so you don’t record stats” of the last few years. 

Brent Blum: Williams and Stanz always stealing my guys, great picks out of them! I’ll give you three under-the-radar names that I think will become familiar as the year goes on. Freshman running back Cartevious Norton continues to be a name that is popping up during summer work-outs. And two secondary players that have been super impressive are redshirt freshman Malik Verdon and junior Darien Porter who has transitioned seamlessly to the corner position and has tremendous potential at that spot.

Connor Ferguson: I really like Chris’ answer to this one, but for the sake of being different, I think we’ll see something from one of the pair of transfers that could see the field on day one. Dimitri Stanley joins the receiving corps from Colorado, where he averaged 16.8 yards per reception during his junior year. Delaware linebacker Colby Reeder has obviously been highly spoken about through the off-season as well. I think if either of those guys fulfill their potential, they can be fan favorites come November.

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.