MONDAY MUSINGS: Why I’m rooting for Isaiah Lee and more entering week one

Iowa State junior defensive tackle Isaiah Lee reacts after stopping Oklahoma State senior running back Jaylen Warren in the backfield for a loss of yards in the second quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. © Bryon Houlgrave / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’ve made it, fanatics.

Game week has arrived and 61,500 fans will soon pack Jack Trice Stadium for another season of Iowa State football.

After another summer of college athletics chaos, the games will be a sweet respite from realignment, booster collective recruiting wars and the transfer portal.

For a few hours each Saturday, everything else will take a backseat to what happens between the white lines.

Here are the musings…

*** If you haven’t seen the video Iowa State football released on its Twitter account this weekend recapping the journey of senior defensive tackle Isaiah Lee, you need to take the time to watch it.

I’ll even include the video for you right here. It is worth the 10-minute run time. Trust me.

Matt Campbell often talks about Iowa State football always going up the rough side of the mountain. Isaiah Lee has gone up the roughest side of the mountain.

For those who don’t know the story or haven’t watched the video, Lee’s mother, Joanne Grimes, has an ailment that forces her to spend significant time in the hospital and on dialysis.

To help lighten the load on his mom, Lee has adopted his younger sister and she lives with him in Ames.

That’s right, the young man who will wear No. 58 this season in honor of former Cyclone defensive line coach Curtis Bray and start at nose tackle for Iowa State this season, is preparing for his senior year while also helping his sister get to and from school and her extracurricular activities.

It is hard for the average person to imagine just how difficult it is to be a high-level Division I football player. It is even harder to imagine how difficult it would be to be a high-level Division I football player while also helping to raise one of your younger siblings.

The craziest part is if you ever have the privilege to meet Isaiah, you would never have any idea how difficult his path to being one of the program’s leaders has been.

He’s always smiling and joking. He even taught Chris Williams what the slang word “bet” means. He’s just a chill dude.

He is the kind of guy who is unbelievably easy to root for, because not only is he a wonderful person, he’s a fantastic football player primed for a breakout senior season.

Reporters can’t cheer in the pressbox, but I’ll be cheering internally for Isaiah Lee.

*** Last Friday, I started my deep dive into Southeast Missouri State.

We will break a lot of those things down in the coming days, including on a new episode of Football (And Random Things) coming to your podcast feed this afternoon.

One non-football thing that jumped out to me in my studies was there are some fantastic names on the RedHawk roster.

Here are a few of my favorites: Shamenski Rucker, Q’Nairies Anderson, Damoriea Vick, Kobe Sixkiller, LaWilliam Holmes and Paxton DeLaurent.

Side note: I want to learn everything there is to know about sophomore offensive lineman Kobe Sixkiller’s family heritage.

*** Paxton DeLaurent was announced as the RedHawks’ starter last week at the end of fall camp. He beat out the program’s returning starter CJ Ogbonna and SEMO head coach Tom Matukewicz told the media last week that playing two quarterbacks early in the season remains a possibility.

DeLaurent will not only be making his first SEMO start on Saturday, but the junior will also be making his first NCAA start.

He starred the last two years at the NAIA program Central Methodist University and earned All-Heart of America Conference honors last season after completing 171-of-349 passes for 2,499 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Matukewicz said he learned about DeLaurent after the quarterback’s mom sent the coach a letter at his Cape Girardeau, Mo. home.

Congrats on winning the camp battle, kid. Your reward is trying to decipher Jon Heacock’s defense.

One last thing…

*** Who could have possibly guessed that a new offensive coordinator, multiple new offensive assistants, a new quarterback and numerous other additions from the transfer portal couldn’t save Nebraska football under Scott Frost?

Frost more or less lost his football team the game on Saturday when he elected to attempt an onside kick while leading Northwestern by 11 points in Dublin.

He said he was trying to land a knockout punch. Instead, he handed a Northwestern team that was sprawled out on the canvas a lifeline with a short field and a chance to cut the game back to one score.

The Wildcats dominated the remainder of the game and left it as a unanimous decision on the scorecard.

Not even a new supporting cast can save Scott Frost from himself.

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.