Beau Freyler is one of the “MVPs”of Iowa State’s stacked secondary

Iowa State defensive back Beau Freyler stands for a photo during media day at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. © Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK 

AMES — Iowa State’s top returning wide receiver, Jaylin Noel, smiled at the question.

 Just how daunting is it to see Cyclone safety Beau Freyler bearing down on you after securing a catch?

 “You go against him, you know you’re gonna get his all,” Noel said of Freyler, one of several standouts in ISU’s secondary. “Obviously (he’s) a very intelligent player. (He) knows his stuff and if you give him anything to read or that he can tell before the snap, he’s gonna pick up on it. So going against him is just iron sharpening iron. I love going against him.”

 Freyler — an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection as a freshman and a sophomore — ranked second on the team in tackles last season with 68. He also notched his first career interception while forcing a fumble, so he’s a hard-hitting disruptor capable of making game-changing plays.

 “That’s one of my favorite things about football,” Freyler said. “Contact.”

 Freyler, along with decorated cornerbacks T.J. Tampa and Myles Purchase, headlines a Cyclone secondary rippling with both raw and seasoned young talent. Jeremiah Cooper started seven games at safety as a true freshman last season and 6-4 sophomore Malik Verdon returns from injury to shore up the safety position. Treyvion McGee, Trevon Howard and former junior college transfer Blake Thompson provide quality depth at the position, and a true freshman has also been standing out in fall camp. That would be former Ankeny star Jamison Patton, who ISU head coach Matt Campbell said has turned heads with some “wow moments.”

 “He’s been really, really impressive early on,” Campbell added. “So, to me, a lot of competition. A lot of guys fighting for playing time and you couple that with our top-end guys that have proven it in games, (and) it’s usually a pretty healthy situation.”

 The same could be said at cornerback, where the 6-2, 200-pound Tampa routinely locks down receivers. Purchase — who added 25 pounds of muscle to his 5-11 frame in the offseason — serves as a highly skilled bookend. The Cyclones ranked 10th nationally in passing yards allowed per game (182.2) last season and those two guys are the main reason why.

 “We both push each other to be the best guy that we can (be),” Purchase said of Tampa. “We’re both leaders in the room, so having a guy like that on the other side is an honor. He’s a great player, as you all see. A great athlete so just having him as one of my best friends and as a player on the other side is great.”

 Tampa’s one of the Cyclones’ most promising pro prospects and has entered fine-tuning mode in his senior season. He said new cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat — who played 10 seasons in the NFL — has helped him polish his game for this season and beyond.

“Just making everything solid,” Tampa said last month at Big 12 media days. “Everything I do, just making sure that it flows right. Any turn, any cut — just making sure everything looks the same every time.”

 Darien Porter, Terrell Crosby and Myles Norwood should all play significant roles at cornerback this season, as well.  

 “I think when you look at the corner(back) position, everybody’s gonna talk about T.J. and Myles, and they should,” Campbell said. “Those guys are great players and they’ve proven to be great players. I think the thing you want to have in college football is elite depth.”

 The Cyclones seem to have that across the secondary, but if anyone falters, Freyler will be there to lift them up.

 “He’s driven, he’s motivated, he’s passionate, and yet he has great compassion for his teammates, and the young guys, and all of those people,” ISU defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said. “(He’s like) the most valuable player. The most valuable player is the guy who makes everybody else out there better, and he’s one of those guys.”