Prove it: Hunter Dekkers prepares for first collegiate start

When Hunter Dekkers takes the field at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, he will be the first Iowa State quarterback to start a season opener without a collegiate start already under his belt since Steele Jantz in 2011.

While that might be nerve-wracking for some, Dekkers says he’s not a guy that gets nervous.

“There’s not really many nerves coming through my body right now,” Dekkers said. “It’s more just excitement than anything.”

Dekkers will take the field on Saturday as the starting quarterback, a role he’s been preparing to be in since the start of spring ball and even before that.

“I think when you look at (Dekker’s) progress, he’s had an entire six months knowing that he’s the starting quarterback and he’s prepping to take over the offense,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said.

The Hawarden, Iowa native has come a long way since his first years of high school. Despite putting up prolific numbers and significant team success, he wasn’t being recruited heavily until late in his career at West Sioux.

Going into May before his senior season, Dekkers held offers from Northern Iowa, South Dakota and South Dakota State. Indiana and Purdue would offer the four-star quarterback-to-be, but Iowa State hadn’t placed one on the table, yet.

“I think it was more of a personal thing,” Dekkers said of not being offered. “It felt personal.”

So, he decided to attend a camp in June, going to Ames without an offer or plan.

He just wanted to prove himself.

“I really wasn’t in communication with the coaches at all,” Dekkers said. “When I told my parents that I wanted to go to that camp, they kind of looked at me crazy.”

Part of the problem was that Iowa State had already had a quarterback committed in the class in Aidan Bouman.

To say Dekkers impressed at the camp is as understated as it gets.

“He had the best camp that I’ve ever seen a quarterback have in my tenure of coaching,” Campbell said. “He was flawless the night he came to our camp.”

Campbell and quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon pulled Dekkers into his office, explained the situation, and offered the in-state quarterback a scholarship.

Two weeks later, after visiting Iowa State, Dekkers committed to playing for the Cyclones.

“It felt like a sense of accomplishment,” Dekkers said. “Something I really worked for.”

That work ethic has put Dekkers into a spot to succeed, at the head of the table for an Iowa State program that is starting a new chapter on Saturday.

It’s well noticed by his experienced teammates, like Xavier Hutchinson, who will be catching passes from Dekkers this season.

“I’m really excited for Hunter,” Hutchinson said. “He’s waited two years for this. I’ve seen him grow for the two years that he’s been here. His maturity and his confidence has only grown. It’s going to be exciting to see 12 out there.”

Dekkers said that he isn’t expecting much for his debut start. He just wants to get on the field and play how he knows that he can.

Iowa State fans have seen that in spurts, but never over an entire game, nor in a situation where Brock Purdy’s status would lead to being potentially unavailable.

For the first time, Dekkers will be throwing the ball for his team. Hutchinson says the gunslinger has superstar ability.

Dekkers certainly has the confidence part all figured out, there’s just one more thing to do.

“That speaks volumes to him,” Hutchinson said. “The number one thing after I said (he has star ability), I told him, ‘You know, I said that, but you’ve got to prove it now.'”