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Inside look at Iowa State football’s fall camp and competitions for starting roles

Offensive+Coordinator+Nate+Scheelhaase+speaks+to+the+offense+after+the+Iowa+State+Spring+football+game%2C+Jack+Trice+Stadium%2C+April+22.
Jacob Rice
Offensive Coordinator Nate Scheelhaase speaks to the offense after the Iowa State Spring football game, Jack Trice Stadium, April 22.

The Iowa State football team’s first-year offensive coordinator Nate Scheelhaase and veteran defensive coordinator Jon Heacock addressed the progression of the team through the first few weeks of fall camp.

As the first game of the season against UNI inches closer by the day, the importance for the Cyclones to build and finalize its starting roster becomes more crucial.

With question marks at who will be the starters behind center and in the backfield due to the gambling allegations, Scheelhasse talked about the potential new suitors for those starting roles and what he’s seen from them in camp. Redshirt sophomore Eli Sanders and sophomore Cartevious Norton earned praise from their new offensive coordinator for their leadership as underclassmen.

“I told them the other day that I feel like they’re veterans,” Scheelhasse said. “The way they’ve carried themselves it feels like they’re veterans. They know all the dimensions of being a running back, running the ball, catching the ball and picking up pass protection.”

Following the mid-season injury to last year’s initial starter Jirehl Brock, both Norton and Sanders saw an uptick in production to close out the year. Sanders earned the final three starts of the season in the backfield, and they each capped off their seasons with career-high rushing marks against TCU.

Scheelhasse talked about what Sanders offers to the team with the ball in his hands and the importance of having Norton at his healthiest heading into the season.

“Obviously he’s (Sanders) got big play ability and anytime you have a running back like that and you get a crease he’s gonna make something happen,” Scheelhasse said. “And Cartevious, he’s got stopped up at times with injury and to have 12 straight practices where that guy’s out there full steam ahead, I really feel like it’s built a good foundation going into this fall.”

When Scheelhasse addressed the still undecided role of starting quarterback, he spoke highly about what the potential candidate has shown in camp and their ability to learn from each practice.

“Those guys have been working really hard,” Scheelhasse said. “We’ve put them in a lot of different situations in camp which I think is really important. Those guys have done a really good job of learning and growing from each rep. I think they’ve been students of the game.”

Redshirt freshman Rocco Becht and freshman JJ Kohl are the suspected top two candidates, along with freshman Wyatt Bohm and junior Tanner Hughes competing for the starting role.

The defense is also dealing with missing pieces in key areas, specifically the rushers up front. The Cyclones will be without star edge rusher Will McDonald for the first time in five years, and more recently lost Isaiah Lee who left the team voluntarily and is among those under investigation for the recent gambling allegations.

Heacock, who is entering his eighth season as the Cyclone’s defensive coordinator, addressed the talent that has been lost at the line but also showed optimism for the guys that could earn the starting role.

“Those guys have been working hard to find pairs and spares in there with some of the young folks and those that came on board,” Heacock said. “They are working hard to understand what we’re doing, it’s not as simple as it looks, and I think also playing hard and asking for the standards that we play at.”

Heacock said that the two front runners for the starting job Domonique Orange and J.R. Singleton, and said it’s been a joy to watch them compete for that role in camp. He also shouted out freshman Zaimir Hawk who has shown strides since joining the team and has made his presence felt quickly.

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Jacob Rice, Visual Editor
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