NOTEBOOK: What we learned at media day

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell took to the podium at his program’s annual media day on Friday, just days removed from news breaking of the gambling investigation that included starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers.

Here’s what we learned throughout the day:

On the gambling story, Campbell understandably couldn’t say much.

“This is an ongoing NCAA and ongoing legal investigation,” Campbell said. “I am empathetic to all of you guys because all of you guys have a job to do.”

As far as direct statements about it go, there wasn’t much he himself could say on the matter.

However, Campbell did mention that there was news that broke that his program did not know about. He didn’t expand on the specifics of it, but there is more.

Offensive lineman Dodge Sauser has voluntarily left the football program. The redshirt sophomore was the other Iowa State football player to be included, so far, in the gambling investigation.

As far as any other players being looped in, as well, is not known at this time.

Iowa State running back Jirehl Brock has not been practicing with the team through camp. Campbell mentioned that Brock was not practicing, but did not elaborate any further aside from pointing out that players could miss practices for a multitude of reasons, such as an injury.

While Brock’s absence was noted, it was also revealed that sophomore running back Cartevious Norton suffered a hamstring tear at some point last season. He should be back and healthy for 2023, but Campbell nor anyone else, noted the severity of the injury, officially, during the 2022 season.

On the quarterback battle that is arising in the absence of Dekkers, neither of the three quarterbacks from the room were present at media day. Campbell had words to say about all three.

On redshirt freshman Rocco Becht:
“I about think him getting great football reps last year, you gotta remember, he’s a true freshman, he got there last last year, and really came in and was not an early enrollee,” Campbell said of Becht. “You know, so Rocco really proved through the football season, I think, really, by the midpoint of the season, took over the two position, and then really put himself in position to get in football games. When he got games, there were a lot of really positive things started to occur, and I think you give him compliments going into the offseason.”

On four-star true freshman J.J. Kohl:
“You know, I think from a JJ Kohl standpoint, one of the benefits for JJ is he got some practice,” Campbell said of the four-star recruit that enrolled early in Ames. “And we all know that those who have covered this area of the state know JJ – a lot of talent, a lot of great God-given ability, a great passion for sport and football, and really great growth in spring ball. And you know, I think he’s really had a great summer, obviously, as well.”

On transfer Tanner Hughes:
“And then for us to get to camp with a guy that has played football, I mean, has played college football reps, a guy that, you know, has had a unique pathway in the Northern California area,” Campbell said of Hughes. “Like a lot of other players that have kind of come out of that area at the quarterback position, you know, where they, they went to junior college and then have gone on to play college football and you know, has a lineage of his father. And it’s almost doing the exact same thing. Tanner, you can almost see the competence in him already. Just because he’s had the ability to already play and go through fall camp.”

The program has welcomed a slew of new assistant coaches – who Campbell says will be available for comments in the coming weeks, but one name kept coming up during player interviews on Friday.

New strength & conditioning coach Reid Kagy has rejuvenized Iowa State’s regimen.

Jarrod Hufford told CycloneFanatic that he gained 30 pounds of muscle, and was, at times, surprised that he was gaining the weight that he put on.

“I was (amazed),” Hufford said. “I don’t want to say I got in my head about it, but I kind of plateaued for a while with my weight. I didn’t think I could gain anymore – I tried.”

Hufford said he ended the 2022 season at 298 pounds, and is now listed on the official roster at 325.

Campbell said during his interview that on average, his players gained eight pounds each during the program over the off-season.

“He came in and his staff told us about how to eat, what to eat, when to eat and how to work out,” Hufford said. “I kept stepping on the scale (over the summer) getting heavier and heavier – but I didn’t feel heavier… I love working out with coach Kagy and the staff, and (offensive line coach Ryan) Clanton, too.”

We’ll have more content throughout the weekend from Iowa State media day on our home page as well as our premium forum at CycloneFanatic.