Iowa State dealing with key injuries

Iowa State already played without linebacker Jake Knott all spring.

That's after losing its top running back, Shontrelle Johnson, with a neck injury early in the 2011 season.

Though it's been more than six months since the injury, Johnson's status is still in doubt.

"He’s not cleared, yet, to do anything football-wise,” coach Paul Rhoads said during the Big 12 coaches teleconference this week. "They will wait until July, when they take the final round of pictures and his surgeon sees those, and decides whether he’s going to sign off."

That's bad news for the Cyclones, though Rhoads' squad played well in the absence of the team's most electric runner. James White emerged to lead the team with 743 yards rushing, but getting Johnson back would be an obvious huge boost.

"Speculation is, probably, that he will get cleared," Rhoads said. "But until that final round of X-rays is taken and viewed, we’ll just sit back and wait and see. And let the young man train like he is going to play."

That's a tough spot for Rhoads, but Johnson isn't going to play if his health is in serious risk. With neck injuries, that's always possible.

The Cyclones are also waiting for receiver Aaron Horne to heal from a broken collarbone, but signs are good for him to return.

"I’m confident we’ll have Aaron back," Rhoads said.

That's especially good news for his junior-college teammate Steele Jantz, who's competing for the quarterback job with Jared Barnett this spring.

Horne's production waned after Jantz was benched in midseason. Horne caught 23 of his 38 balls in the season's first six games. He was held without a catch in the final two games of the regular season.