Belinson: Three Big Takeaways from Iowa State’s spring practice


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers reads the defense before snapping the ball on Friday at Ames High School.

Matt Belinson

AMES — Iowa State football gave the public (and media) its first live look at the 2022 Cyclones in their own backyard more or less.

The Cyclones opened spring practice to observers at Friday evening at Ames High School, with fans packing the stands to watch drills and simulated live drives of the Cyclones.

Even former players Charlie Kolar (donning a white visor patrolling the sidelines), Breece Hall, Colin Newell and Andrew Mevis attended the practice and helped act as coaches on the field.

Here are three observations of mine from Friday’s open practice.

Hunter Dekkers and the QB room needs more time to grow

Hunter Dekkers is the No. 1 quarterback as we sit here today. That’s clear.

He took all the reps with the first team offense, which included Xavier Hutchinson, Jaylin Noel and Darren Wilson at receiver and worked at a quick tempo.

The throws were sharp and he looked poised – obviously that’s easy to do when pass rushers can’t touch you. Like his predecessor Brock Purdy, Dekkers went to Hutchinson as his go-to target quite a bit.

“There’s not a ball that he can’t throw,” Hutchinson said of Dekkers. “He walks like he’s a quarterback. He has that superstar in him.”

Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell said the theme of the quarterback room is steady growth.

It’s a fair thing to ask of a room with a combined 0 starts at the Division I level, but Campbell said he does want to find out the pieces on this team sooner than later.

I found that interesting, considering he’s often taken the wait-and-see approach. 

It’s clear the quarterback room’s clock of sorting itself out will continue throughout the rest of spring ball.

“They improved steadily as the spring’s gone on,” Campbell said. “Hunter has really grown through the early part of spring practice. I think Rocco Becht had a great day.”

Dekkers said he’s working to understand the offense and the system around him. He’s got a ways to go before he’s got it all down, but so far, he’s looking confident.

“Just to keep growing, that’s the ultimate goal,” Dekkers said.

Deon Silas is out — for now

The running back room will feature the other big spotlight this spring, with Breece Hall’s legacy still fresh on the minds of Cyclone fans and players.

And another wrinkle was added to the room’s depth chart.

Iowa State sophomore running back Deon Silas didn’t participate in stretches or any team drills on Friday. He walked with a slight limp with a trainer in the early stages of the evening.

Campbell said Silas got “dinged up” during spring practice and won’t be available the rest of spring ball.

“He’ll probably be out the rest of spring,” Campbell said. “Nothing major, we know we’re getting him back full-go here probably by the end of spring.”

That leaves Jirehl Brock and Eli Sanders with the first and second teams reps.

Defensive backs show out

Anthony Johnson is the most experienced defensive back left for the Cyclones, but even he’s going through a period of transition.

The veteran cornerback is trying out safety this spring, pairing him opposite Beau Freyler in first-team reps on Friday.

Johnson matched up with Hutchinson in multiple one-on-one drills during the day and should have picked off a bad pass from Rocco Becht in the first period of first team goal line drills.

T.J. Tampa locked up Sean Shaw Jr. on a pass down the sideline on the very next drill and freshman quarterback Ashton Cook’s pass was dropped by a receiver after the defensive back hand fought off the line of scrimmage to disrupt the pass.

“There’s a lot of experience back there and everybody’s fighting for playing time,” Campbell said.

In the final team drills of the day, Aidan Bouman was picked off in the redzone.