Photo: John Scallon/Iowa State Daily
Spring practice started Tuesday afternoon for the ISU football team with an hour and a half of pad-free workouts under the arched roof at the Bergstrom Indoor Practice Facility.
The practice was the first for the Cyclones as a part of their preparation for the annual Cardinal/Gold Spring Game to take place April 16 at Jack Trice Stadium.
“I think it was a pretty good first day,” said sophomore running back Shontrelle Johnson after he jogged off the turf. “First day was high energy. It was definitely up tempo. I think offense and defense looked good, guys on both sides.”
The practice was not only the first on-field action for the players since November, it was the first look coaches got at the new-look team that returns 13 starters to the field.
Johnson played second fiddle in the backfield during the 2010 season behind Alexander Robinson — who was also in attendance at practice after working out at Iowa State’s pro day earlier in the morning — but is listed as the top halfback on the team’s initial depth chart.
He’s also the most experienced back on the roster, as all four back listed on the two-deep chart are sophomores or younger.
“It’s definitely a good feeling, but you’ve still got to be on p’s and q’s because is out to compete for a job,” Johnson said. “There’s no set-in-stone positions. Everybody and everything is up for the running.”
Blocking for Johnson will be an inexperienced offensive line that loses three-year starter Alex Alvarez and potential NFL draftee Ben Lamaak.
“We’ve got so much more depth than we’ve had in past years,” said offensive line coach Bill Bliel. “We’ve got some younger guys that have matured and are fighting for positions. There’s nothing better than competition when you’re fighting for positions.”
That competition will continue over the next three weeks, but Bliel said things won’t start to shake out along the offensive line until the players get into full pads.
“No-padded practices are very hard for o-lineman,” Bleil said. “It’s hard.”
Almost every one of the ISU roster participated in day one of spring practice, with only wide reciever Josh Lenz sitting out due to a sprained ankle. He will be out at least a week, said ISU coach Paul Rhoads.