Cyclone tight ends ready for challenge of replacing senior class

Jared Rus (left) and Breece Hall (right) celebrate after Hall’s rushing touchdown against No.10 Iowa on Sept. 11.

Christian Royston

With the loss of big-name tight ends in Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, Iowa State fans are left questioning if the current tight end room can live up to Iowa State’s high standards.

It’s clear that this question has also been on the minds of the coaching staff. It might be hard to replace guys like Kolar and Allen, but the Iowa State football team is confident that the current group can meet any expectations set of them.

“Those guys will die for an inch to help us win any football game,” Tight End Coach Taylor Mouser said. 

Mouser was talking about Kolar and Allen, but he was also referring to the current players he’s coaching. The next guys up know how big the shoes are that they have to fill and are putting in the work during fall camp to prepare for the upcoming season.

The winning mentality instilled in the star tight ends was not lost during the transition into fall camp. New guys are stepping up to prove their worth and show that they have the guts it takes to perform any given Saturday.

They’ll do whatever it takes to win football games. They know the standard that has been set, and the coaching staff expects the new tight ends to come in and play to that standard.

It seems that the starting tight end position is the only one that has been confidently set, so playing time is still up for grabs as the fall camp progresses. Redshirt senior Jared Rus is looking to be the starter going into the year.

Rus has been the third tight end behind Kolar and Allen, and now he will get his shot to be in the spotlight. Over the years, Rus has made waves on special teams and at fullback, earning All-Big 12 First Team honors in 2021.

With the reps he already has, Rus is expected to get the majority of reps on the field in 2022, according to Mouser. His impact on special teams and other players’ reps on special teams will prove to be the experience they need going into the year.

“If you’re not going to play on special teams, then you can’t play tight end for us here,” Mouser said.

Mouser understands the impact special teams has on the whole team’s success and has instilled that expectation on the current tight end room. Now with guys looking to make their mark, it’s important for newer players to work to better themselves in every aspect of the game.

A few players have gotten looks during fall camp and could look to make an impact during the regular season. Mouser first talked about the great fall camp Stevo Klotz has had. He said it’s expected to see Klotz make waves during the year.

Easton Dean, DeShawn Hanika and Tyler Moore also turned heads during the summer and fall camp. All three demonstrated their great route running abilities and their fast, explosive attributes in the receiving game.

Mouser praised their creativeness and compared it to the creativeness that allowed Kolar to excel at the position. The tight end who showed the most growth since he’s gotten to Iowa State was Moore, who came out of high school with the elite size needed of the position.

“How far he’s come mentally, I mean physically, he’s always been huge, but he wears his emotions on his sleeve,” Taylor Mouser said. “He reminds me a lot of Charlie [Kolar] in that sense, and he wants to make every play, make every block and be able to handle adversity and come back and make big plays.”

Coming to college physically ready to play doesn’t necessarily mean the player is going to see the field as a true freshman. Moore knew this and took the time to grow his football knowledge over his physical attributes.

The biggest thing Moore said that helped was focusing less on weight training and more on watching film. The one thing he noticed Kolar and Allen did that made them successful was how serious they took film studying.

“Playing college ball is a whole different level. You know you got to be mentally ready a lot more than physically ready,” Moore said. 

Although leaving his high school football days behind was tough, the most bittersweet thing Moore left behind was his baseball playing days. He said baseball was his first love, and the heights he reached in baseball show how much work ethic he has.

Moore was part of the Little League World Series in 2016 as a pitcher and an outfielder. The atmosphere of the Little League World Series helped him get comfortable competing under pressure, although Moore said nothing compares to the electricity he feels when it’s game time in Jack Trice Stadium.

Right now, just like everyone else on the team, Moore is looking forward to next season and how he can work to be the best he can be. The biggest thing the tight end room needs to do is keep the mistakes on the field to a minimum.

Mouser related the tight ends to the “janitors of the offense.” They need to clean up problems that occur on the field and fix mistakes that may come up on offense.

The team has faith in the talent at the receiver position, as Xavier Hutchinson and Jaylin Noel are looking to dominate the field. This means the tight ends are going to play more of a backup role this year to let the star wide receivers shine.

Moore knows what it takes to be a janitor of the offense too. Moore said it means “being there when the team needs someone else to clean up something, just being able to take care of that job and take care of that duty.”

While the team is working to take care of their duties, the coaching staff is now looking to figure out how best to approach the season. Mouser said come Sunday, he should know who’s playing where in the tight end room.

There is a possibility for three tight end sets too, but only time will tell if the room is ready for that responsibility.

“I want to see how they react when stuff gets really hard,” Mouser said.

That’s going to be the main thing to keep an eye on as fall camp progresses. Experience on the field is invaluable.

As the fresh tight end group prepares for the season, they are getting better day by day. Moore made it a priority to assure Iowa State fans that this tight end room is as strong as ever.

“Be confident in the team we have now and the tight ends we have now,” Moore said.