NOTEBOOK: Blaney starts 11th season under Mangino, JUCO transfers have first practice

Maddy Arnold

Brandon Blaney and Mark Mangino go back a long way.

Blaney was a graduate assistant for Mangino when he worked for Oklahoma. And when Mangino was hired as the head coach at Kansas, Blaney followed him there. He was Mangino’s very first hire and stayed with him throughout his eight seasons with the Jayhawks.

Blaney is now back with Mangino after spending two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching on the defensive side of the ball. Mangino and ISU coach Paul Rhoads hired Blaney in February to coach the ISU offensive line.

“Holding back a staff position for Mark to help hire was important. It ended up being two when it was all said and done and that was the one he was most concerned about was the offensive line position. There wasn’t any hesitation or reservation with who he wanted. We were pleased to be able to hire Brandon because of that,” Rhoads said.

But a strong relationship with his offensive coordinator is not the only thing that might ease Blaney’s quick transition to Iowa State. Blaney will have plenty of experience on his offensive line this season.

All 11 positions on offense have returning starters. And five out of six offensive linemen with starting experience will be upperclassmen this upcoming season. But Mangino has faith in Blaney no matter the experience of his line.

“There’s nothing he can’t do. There’s not a position on offense that he can’t coach. I’m pretty sure that he could probably coach defense positions too. He is a hard working, energetic dedicated guy. He loves coaching and he loves the players,” Mangino said. “He’s tough, demanding but they respect him because usually he makes his players better.”

Junior college transfers

The ISU football team’s three mid-year enrollees got to practice for the first time on Monday. None of the three junior college transfers are listed as starters for the spring.

All three will play defense this spring. Defensive end Gabe Luna and free safety Devron Moore are both listed second on the depth chart at their respective positions. But Iowa State does not have a returning starter at either position.

Jordan Harris, a linebacker out of Copiah-Lincoln Community College, is listed behind Kane Seeley and Alton Meeks this spring. But Rhoads said Harris’ best impression will be made when he gets to practice with full contact.

“Jordan Harris is a guy that he’s done it. He’s done it at a different level. We’ll see if he can be in the right place and be doing the right things the first two days without being able to see any contact which is where I think he’ll really show up on Monday the 24th when we get back,” Rhoads said.

ISU defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said junior college transfers have to learn like any other player would during spring football. However, Burnham said he would like the improvement to take place a little faster for those three players.

“I want them to learn the defense as much as possible and learn how to work the way we work and not take plays off, fight through it and all those kinds of things that you want anybody to do. You’ve got to rush those guys. You push them with knowledge and all the things they got to do on the field,” Burnham said.