Notebook: Dekkers has the trust of Iowa State football

Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers scores a touchdown against Kansas on Oct. 2.

Anthony Hanson

Iowa State football will take the field Sept. 3 against Southeast Missouri State and a fresh face will be taking snaps for the first time since 2018. 

Junior quarterback Hunter Dekkers will receive his first start after two seasons behind 49ers draftee and the best quarterback in Iowa State history Brock Purdy. The 6 foot 3 inches, 206 pound lefty from Hawarden, Iowa, will lead Iowa State into battle to follow up its highly anticipated 2021 season. 

With fall camp underway and four weeks until his first start, Dekkers is ahead of the game, more so than the average two-year backup quarterback, according to Head Coach Matt Campbell. 

Unlike Iowa State’s last two starting quarterbacks, Purdy and Kyle Kempt, Dekkers and his teammates have known since January who will be taking snaps week one. Dekkers had each step of the offseason to gain the trust of the team and coaching staff that’s vital to lead the offense. 

Like his predecessor, Dekkers gained that trust.

“The thing that I’m most impressed with Hunter is the opportunities he’s already had,” Campbell said. “It’s not so much hypothetical. He’s actually been on the field and had the opportunity to play the game of football and command the offense.” 

In his career of seven games, Dekkers accumulated 311 passing yards and 73 rushing yards playing in limited time in each game. He’s scored two rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns playing as the understudy to Purdy. 

He learned to stay calm in the moment during his time playing in some of Iowa State’s biggest 2021 matchups. Dekkers saw time and threw touchdown passes in games against two top-15 ranked teams. On the road against No. 13 Oklahoma and in an intense atmosphere against the in-state rival No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes, Dekkers saw live action.

Purdy was a great mentor, Dekkers said. While Purdy’s status as the program’s leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns is hard to follow, Dekkers learned how to handle good and bad from the departing quarterback.

As for trust, it’s a process, according to Dekkers.

“I definitely have the trust of the players of this team,” Dekkers said. “But there’s a side of me that has to gain the trust from game experience.” 

Dekkers will rely on a different array of weapons in the passing game as he gains game experience this fall. His strong-arm talent paired with wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson’s abilities on the outside lends itself to more passes down the field. But Iowa State loses tight ends Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen from its 2021 Big 12 leading passing offense.

Sophomore wide receiver Jaylin Noel will be a weapon at Dekkers’ disposable in the passing game. Noel caught 38 passes for 265 yards in his freshman season in 2021. His status as mostly a second-team player on the depth chart last season allowed him to gain chemistry with Dekkers.

Now that Noel is a more prominent option, Noel said the only difference in his offseason has been leading by example.

“I’m really just stepping up and becoming more of a leader within the room,” Noel said. “Being that guy that some of the other guys look towards to see how to work throughout the day.”

The Iowa State squad will exhibit a fresh looking secondary as well to start the 2022 season. Sophomore Beau Freyler will take the place of graduating middle safety Greg Eisworth and cornerback Anthony Johnson will move into another safety position. 

Johnson and Iowa State’s defensive unit lose the services of leaders like Eisworth and linebackers Mike Rose and Jake Hummel. Johnson’s position of defensive back is vital in the pass heavy landscape of the Big 12 Conference. 

During fall camp, the four Cyclones will compete for two starting cornerback spots. 

“It’s the healthiest that we’ve ever been at the corner position,” Campbell said.

Myles Purchase, Darien Porter, T.J. Tampa and Tayvonn Kyle fill out the depth chart at the corner position and their contribution will allow Iowa State to be versatile on defense to disrupt Big 12 offenses, Campbell said.

The junior and special teams guru Porter especially stood out. Originally recruited out of Bettendorf as a wide receiver, Porter shocked the entire Iowa State coaching staff with his offseason development. 

“He’s as trusted as you’re going to find in our program,” Campbell said.