Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Breaking down spring camp: Iowa State
By ESPN.com staff
Iowa State kicks off spring practice Tuesday. Let's take a closer look.
Schedule: The first of 15 spring practices allowed by the NCAA begins and they'll conclude with the spring game on April 14. Practices are closed to fans and media.
What's new: Offensive coordinator Tom Herman helped Paul Rhoads build his program and take the Cyclones to two bowl games in three years, but he left to take the offensive coordinator job on Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State. In his place is receivers coach Courtney Messingham, who has lots of experience at lower levels of football, but will be calling plays at the FBS level for the first time.
Key position battle: Kelechi Osemele has been an All-Big 12 stalwart at left tackle for the last three season, but the inevitable happened this offseason: He graduated and moved on to the NFL. Now, Iowa State needs a replacement. Converted tight end Carter Bykowski -- now up to 6-foot-8 and 303 pounds -- could be the man protecting the blind side, but 6-foot-6, 294-pound Kyle Lichtenberg could try to win the job this spring, too. The line also lost right guard Hayworth Hicks, a two-year starter. Jacob Gannon, a 6-foot-7, 286-pound sophomore gets the first crack at replacing him.
On the mend: The front seven. Linebacker Jake Knott will miss the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery. He'll be missed, but replaced by Jevohn Miller. Junior Willie Scott steps in for defensive end Roosevelt Maggitt, who will miss the spring with a knee injury. Cornerback Jeremy Reeves will also miss be limited this spring after undergoing wrist surgery. Look for sophomore Matt Thomas to jump in when Reeves doesn't participate.
Question marks: Cornerbacks. Reeves should be OK, but he's the only returning starter at corner for the Cyclones, and as noted, he'll be in and out during the spring. Junior Jansen Watson draws the tough task of trying to replace NFL-bound Leonard Johnson, one of the most underrated corners in the league last season. You need lots of good corners in this league, and Iowa State still has a lot to prove at the position.
All eyes on: The quarterbacks. Jared Barnett looked like the future in midseason after leading the Cyclones to wins over Texas Tech, Kansas and Oklahoma State, but he faltered down the stretch and was benched for Steele Jantz, who opened the season with three fourth-quarter comeback wins over Northern Iowa, UConn and Iowa. The guess here is it's Barnett's job to lose, but there's no guarantee he won't do exactly that: lose it. The sophomore was streaky last season.
For now, however, the pair are officially listed as co-starters to begin the spring. Looks like we've got a legitimate quarterback battle on our hands for the second consecutive season in Ames.