Harrington: The most important season of the Campbell era

Matt+Campbell+speaks+to+his+team+after+a+Spring+football+practice+at+Ames+High+School.%C2%A0

Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Matt Campbell speaks to his team after a Spring football practice at Ames High School. 

It’s fair to say that Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell has gotten Iowa State to one of its best – if not the best – eras in school history.

From getting the team to the Big 12 Championship game to the Fiesta Bowl appearance, Cyclone fans have had a lot to celebrate during his time here.

With that being said, the low expectations this year may make it the most important season since Campbell arrived back in 2015. The Cyclones may not be a flawless team that returns to the Big 12 Championship this year, but this is the dawn of a new chapter.

Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, Mike Rose, Charlie Kolar, Chase Allen and many more players have departed, causing a new wave of players to step up. In previous years, some of the most important things for Iowa State football were contending in the conference, beating Iowa and getting players into the draft. However, this season is important for a different reason.

The young players will need to show signs of growth as they will be the core of the roster for years to come.

Starting at the quarterback position will likely be Hunter Dekkers, who has played only a handful of drives in his time at Iowa State. If he becomes a cornerstone of the Cyclones, then they will be set up for better success. If he does not pan out, the Cyclones will be forced to look elsewhere until the situation is solved. This can set back the progression of a program that had been rapidly improving on the national scale.

There are expectations in place for Jaylin Noel to be one of the best receivers in the Big 12, and he has all the skills to do so. With that being said, things do not always work out that simply.

Things are no different on the defensive side of the ball. Young players such as Beau Freyler, Myles Purchase and J.R. Singleton are thought to be the future of the Cyclone defense, but what if some of these younger players do not pan out?

Overall, the importance of this season is growth – not the record at the end of the year, and not the outside expectations. If the underclassmen finish the season as better players than they were coming in, I would call the year a success.

With the future of the team hanging in the balance, it will ultimately be up to the players to decide the direction of the team moving forward.