Notebook: Iowa State’s depth will be a focus heading into the season

Coach Matt Campbell speaks at the ESPN College GameDay at Iowa State.

Zane Douglas

One step closer.

The college football season is inching its way back for the Big 12 and the nation, but Iowa State still has some questions surrounding the team and with the rest of the U.S. sports world taking part in boycotts and fights against systemic racism, the college football season could be impacted once again.

Fighting for change

Iowa State has been no stranger to historic instances of racial injustice — the stadium that the Cyclones play in is named after Jack Trice, a Black man and an inspirational figure that was killed by injuries sustained from a football game in 1923.

With the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, members of the Cyclones were asked about their thoughts on the recent events with Blake, George Floyd and other instances of police violence against Black Americans.

“It makes me frustrated,” defensive back Lawrence White said. “[…] I think we’re all doing a good job especially here at Iowa State, trying to find solutions.

“I gotta give a thanks to Coach [Matt Campbell] because he always lets us voice our opinions.”

White is a criminal justice major and he said his major has helped him out with his perspective on the issue, but says he still needs keep learning and researching.

For Campbell, this is a time to have important conversations as a team, especially with sports being important in these issues.

“This is a powerful time,” Campbell said. “This is a time where these opportunities to educate, to stand for something, to grow, to have empathy, to have conversations — that’s the time that we’re in.”

Hutchinson brings a different perspective

During the offseason, the Cyclones brought in a couple big junior college transfers and one of them is wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson.

Hutchinson was the No. 74 junior college player nationally and the No. 9 receiver according to

Like recent Cyclone star receivers Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler, Hutchinson brings size to the table, but White didn’t focus on the parallels.

“He’s his own person, He’s Xavier Hutchinson,” White said. “He has his own game and he does it really well.”

That game worked well enough for the junior wide out to end up at Iowa State — a place he spoke highly of.

Hutchinson was recruited by a few highly rated schools including Oklahoma, but he ultimately decided on Iowa State as his new home.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Hutchinson said. “Like I said before I even came here this is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Hutchinson will look to be a key figure in a somewhat depleted wide receiver room who is dealing with the losses of Deshaunte Jones and La’Michael Pettway, leaving the top two receiver spots open.

Embarrassment of riches

Despite the losses at some positions, Campbell is benefiting from a problem that he hasn’t had a lot of up to this point in his coaching career in Ames: The Cyclones are loaded with depth.

Any position group, besides the offensive line, has bunches of players that have either been there before or flashed talent in meaningful situations.

The defense benefits from a ton of experience and is dealing with a large position battle on the defensive line as JaQuan Bailey re-enters the fold of Zach Petersen, Will McDonald, Eyioma Uwazurike and Latrell Bankston.

The Linebackers lost Marcel Spears Jr. but Jake Hummel saw a lot of playing time last season. The secondary didn’t lose any starters and even has three solid cornerback options that came back from last season.

Campbell and White discussed White’s leadership on the defense and specifically the secondary.

“I just try to be that leader that I had when I was young,” White said. “Those leaders helped me out and I’m just trying to do the same for them.”

Offensively, the wide receiver room has Hutchinson, but is also seeing returning seasons from Tarique Milton, Sean Shaw Jr. and Joseph Scates.

Running back looks deep with Breece Hall leading the charge as Jirehl Brock and Johnnie Lang Jr. back him up. Kene Nwangwu is still in the fold and figures to see reps on special teams.

At tight end, Iowa State has Charlie Kolar as the front man after a breakout season in 2019 with Chase Allen behind him.

The Cyclones have the offensive line and the special teams unit that could use some experience, but the rest of the team has a mix of experience and talent that provides depth.

“I think as you enter years four, five, six, seven, you’re looking for, ‘how do you continue to compliment and put together a true program,'” Campbell said.