‘That’s leadership’: Cyclone defense stressing importance of helping each other


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State linebacker O’Rien Vance signals for third-down during the Cyclones’ game against Oklahoma State on Oct. 23, 2021.

Iowa State football plays its first game against Southeast Missouri on Sept. 3, and position battles are beginning to round out on both sides of the ball. Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock and offensive coordinator Tom Manning spoke to the media with just 11 days until kickoff.

Stories to be told

Heacock spent time discussing how his defense is full of players that have had to put in the time to get to where they are now. This includes players such as Anthony Johnson, O’Rien Vance and more who stuck around and worked until they were at the forefront of the position group.

“You can’t go from the back of the room in any program and be in the front of the room and not have done something, and survived, and persevered, and been through tough times and you have some kind of story to tell,” Heacock said. “The willingness that I see is for them to share their story with the rest of the team. That’s leadership, that’s priceless.”

Heacock said what makes this leadership even more impressive is that it is not happening when all eyes are on the leaders. These stories are being passed to the underclassmen when the coaches are not around.

Redshirt senior linebacker Colby Reeder is now learning his fourth defensive scheme after transferring to Iowa State from Delaware.

Reeder still has room to learn but has been progressing nicely in preseason practices, Heacock said.

Running back battle

One of the biggest talking points of the Iowa State offense this year has been the running back group. Jirehl Brock is assumed to be the starter, while the trio of Deon Silas, Eli Sanders and Cartevious Norton are all expected to be in the mix.

This is much different than prior years for the Cyclones as David Montgomery and Breece Hall were both write-ins for the starting running back spot in recent years.

“Everybody knew that Breece was going to be the tailback,” offensive coordinator Tom Manning said. “These guys are all kind of chomping at the bit.”

Manning said each of the four previously mentioned running backs has shown what they can do in practice and have each had days where they performed the best in the group.

Establishing the run is something that Iowa State has done in the past, and it is going to be a focus of the team once again.

This will be even more important for the Cyclones this season as Hunter Dekkers will become the starting quarterback after limited playing time to start his collegiate career due to sitting behind now San Francisco 49er Brock Purdy.

“It shows that you have the ability to run the football and that you at least have made a commitment to running the football,” Manning said. “A big deal, one obviously from an attitude standpoint, but I think just in terms of, you know, opening up the other opportunities in the passing game.”

Dekkers impressed those within the program with his arm talent, but what has stuck with Manning the most is his IQ and the time he puts in to watch the film.