QUOTEBOOK: On the side with Matt Campbell at Big 12 Media Day

Jul 14, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell is interviewed during the Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas — Below is a compilation of quotes from side conversations with Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell at the Big 12’s media day on Thursday. 

Pillars of the program .. 

I talked at length with Matt Campbell about this… Iowa State’s roster is quite fascinating when you think about it. There are all sorts of newcomers to the two-deep, but so many rock-solid veterans returning as well. 

“You’ve got Anthony Johnson,” Campbell said. “He’s been a pillar of the success of this program and all-conference player.”

Will McDonald and Isaiah Lee have played a ton of football up front on defense. 

“Will McDonald might be the best defensive lineman that’s ever played at Iowa State,” Campbell said. 

On offense and beyond … 

“Trevor Downing is maybe the best offensive lineman that’s ever played here,” Campbell said. “You’ve got Xavier Hutchison, who has led the conference in receiving. So you look at it and you say, ‘Well, do you have pillars to build around? Is this a total rebuild? It’s a football program. And it’s a program that’s continuing to build and evolve. And that’s what I’m really proud of. Yeah, we lost some really good players. And we’re proud of those players. And they left it in a better place. And they made the guys that have it now, it’s their turn to lead the program ready to take the reins and lead a football program.”

Matt Campbell on linebacker transfer Colby Reeder …

“Colby is just a really special young man. Obviously, he’s played a lot of football, which I still think that matters in our sport where you play and you’ve been in a competitive situation you had to lead a team playing a very similar defense to what we play. I think he’s come in with the understanding and work ethic, when you’ve got a brother that’s playing in the National Football League and had elite success with the Rams and won a Super Bowl, I think he’s brought that mentality, that work ethic, physicality, and is really the veteran that we were really hoping to have. And then combine him with O’Rien Vance. He had a really great spring for us. We think he’s got a chance to have a really special year.”

Xavier Hutchinson on Colorado transfer, wide receiver Dimitri Stanley

“He looks extremely good. I think he has put a lot of things together since spring ball. He looks fantastic.”

On Stanley’s speed…

“It opens up everything up, you know if you can have two of those guys on the field, with Jaylin and him. Honestly, the sky, there’s no limit to what our offense can and can’t be. I think Dimitri adds a different kind of level. He adds almost what kind of Joe added for us last year when he got his limited reps. He’s someone that you have to pay attention to no matter what whether he’s getting the ball or not. You have to pay attention to him because he can change the game on one play.”

On Hunter Dekkers’ arm …

Xavier told me that he believes Hunter Dekkers can throw a football 70 yards. He’s excited about this…

“It’s extremely fun because you know he can throw the ball out there. And you know, if you believe in yourself, you can go get it. I think as a receiver, you know, that’s, that’s always the predicament that you want to be in is a go-getter, and he believes in you enough to throw it. So yeah, it’s fun.”

Matt Campbell’s assessment of the secondary … 

“I would say we’re the deepest and the best we’ve ever been in our secondary. I think competition has probably created some of those things. I would say when you look at the corner spots, man you’re talking about maybe the four best corners we’ll carry into a football season since I’ve been there in terms of depth and abilities. Obviously, you’ve got tape on Tayvonn Kyle and T.J. Tampa, you know, guys that have done phenomenal things here. And you’ve got Myles Purchase, who was probably another guy that you talk about at the end of the season was really playing maybe as good as anybody. So you got four guys that all can play. What can those guys do for you? How can you use them uniquely? That’s exciting.” 

“Obviously Anthony Johnson going to the safety spot and man, a guy we really believe in and you’ve seen him play at an all-conference level already. Now he can do it at safety. And then Beau (Freyler), you know, both him and Mason Chambers, guys that have been critical. Again, the other guy, you would say from the Clemson game, I don’t know how many tackles, but there were a lot of them. And he made them all and really was critical for us the last six games of the season, really, by the midway point of the season was splitting time. And a lot of that was because of how he practiced and how just how good he was as a freshman. And that was obviously a guy that played critical snaps and had made critical plays. And really, I thought another guy that had a great offseason for us and kind of pushed himself up the depth chart. So man, when you look at our two-deep and you look at the depth of our team. So I think it’s one of the great strengths that we’ve had in actually an area where we haven’t had strength. Excited about that.”

Campbell on the upcoming sophomore season of wide receiver Jaylin Noel …

“When I think of Jaylin, I think of Xavier coming into our program. You know, X, and I think that I talked about it from day one. The first winter workout, the first conditioning, the first practice, how he goes about his work is what makes X really special. With Jaylin, I can still go back to last January when he came in our program for the first day. He lined up right next to Xavier Hutchinson, the best player, and man, he wanted to be competing with him every day. And he’s got that same mentality. He’s got competitive excellence, and he wants to be the best. I think Jaylin has the ability to be one of the great players of all time. He’s just got competitive excellence in everything he does, and I give a lot of credit to him. I’ve said this about great players we’ve had in our program that are transformational. If you come to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and you watch them play, they’re the same guy on Saturday. And I think it takes a special guy to do that. Jaylin had a really great year and made big plays in that bowl game. 

Campbell on Hunter Dekkers…

“I would just say he’s taken all the right steps that he would you would want Hunter to take to prepare himself for the football season. Hunter is one of those guys, where again the word that comes up for me is ‘competitive excellence.’ He wants to be the best and he’s going to attack it whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s a winter conditioning race, whether it’s how far you can throw the football, whether it’s playing basketball or he’s going out playing golf. He wants to beat you in everything and that’s something that’s really special about Hunter. And you know, what I really appreciate about Hunter is he has really diligently worked for the challenges that are coming. We’ll find out in the season is he ready for it. But you know, to me what he’s needed to do prepare both mentally and physically, he’s done an unbelievable job. I’m really proud of that.”