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Becht among 16 Cyclones honored by Big 12 coaches

Jacob Rice
Quarterback Rocco Becht smiles as his teammates throw snow at him after winning the Iowa State vs. Kansas State football game, 42-35, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 25, 2023 in Manhattan, Kansas.

Following the end of the 2023 regular season, 16 members of the Iowa State football team were honored by Big 12 coaches Wednesday.

While the Cyclones and the rest of the qualified teams in college football await their bowl game matchups, the Big 12 released the annual awards voted on by the coaches that make up the conference.

Of the 16 Iowa State players to be honored, nine were honorable mention selections. Here is the list of Cyclones that earned Big 12 honors during their bounce-back seven-win season:

Offensive Freshman of the Year:

Rocco Becht, Quarterback

After breaking multiple freshman program records, including passing touchdowns (20) and passing yards (2,674), Becht became the first Cyclone since Mike Warren in 2015 to earn Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.

Becht had six games this season with 230 or more passing yards in his 12 starts this season, and he had the fifth most passing yards among Big 12 quarterbacks.

The Florida native entered the year with minimal playing time during his redshirt year in 2022 and started every game this season for Iowa State. He played a pivotal role in leading the Cyclones to their sixth seven-win season under head coach Matt Campbell.

Becht established himself as an efficient passer during his first season as a starter. He has completed 63.5% of his passes, including 64.3% in his nine games against Big 12 opponents.

To the tune of 18 total touchdowns to five interceptions over the course of conference play, the young signal caller established himself as not only the next leader of the Cyclones but also one of the most promising young players in the Big 12.

All-Big 12 First Team:

T.J. Tampa, Defensive back

Following up on an All-Big 12 Second Team selection from last season, Tampa continues to build up his draft stock with a first-team honor in his senior season.

While his stats may not jump out as an elite corner, what made him such an impact for the Cyclones this season was his ability to make opposing quarterbacks look the other way.

When the veteran corner was challenged, things typically went his way. He accumulated 44 total tackles, along with a pair of interceptions in conference play and seven pass breakups over the course of his 12 starts this season.

It is possible that against Kansas State, Tampa suited up in an Iowa State uniform for the last time.

Whether he chooses to stay for the bowl game or not, he will leave the program as one of its leaders on the defensive side that helped lock down the skies throughout the year and allow the third-fewest passing yards among Big 12 schools.

Jeremiah Cooper, Defensive back

One of the biggest surprises of the season for the Cyclones, Cooper’s presence as one of the defense’s biggest weapons was felt on one of his first snaps of the season when he took an interception 58 yards to the house against Northern Iowa.

Cooper added four more picks, one of which came later in the game against the Panthers, and ended the season in a tie for the fifth-most interceptions among FBS players. The sophomore safety, unlike Tampa, was challenged often throughout the year and established himself as one of the best up-and-coming defenders in college football.

Despite missing two games late in the season, the Texas native compiled nine pass breakups, which is tied for the third-most in the Big 12 and second-most on the team behind Myles Purchase (12).

Second Team:

Jaylin Noel, Wide receiver

One of the Cyclones’ five captains selected prior to the season, the junior wideout was asked to step into new roles in an overall inexperienced offense. The new No. 1 wide receiver for the Cyclones continued his consistent growth in the offense and had a career year with a redshirt freshman as his quarterback.

Noel finished the season with the ninth-most receiving yards in the Big 12 (741) and the fifth-most receptions (60), and he tied for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns (6), all of which either tied or broke his numbers in his first two years at Iowa State.

He also served as the lead returner for the Cyclones, and although he rarely got a chance to rip off a long return, his shiftiness and breakaway speed were demonstrated with the ball in his hands on offense.

The Missouri native had six games with a reception for at least 20 yards, highlighted by an 82-yard catch and run down the sideline against Kansas State for what would end up being the game-winning touchdown.

Stevo Klotz, Fullback

Although he is listed as a tight end, Klotz spent most of his redshirt junior season in the backfield setting blocks and making his presence felt as a fullback. He is the third straight Cyclone to earn All-Big 12 honors as a fullback, with Jared Rus making first team in 2021 and second team in 2022.

Klotz got his name in the stat sheets at Iowa State with his seven catches for 60 yards, including a full-extension 13-yard touchdown on the road against Cincinnati. He recorded a catch in five games this season, including two catches against Oklahoma State and Cincinnati.

Honorable Mentions:

Jayden Higgins, Wide receiver (Offensive Newcomer of the Year)

T.J. Tampa, Defensive back (Defensive Player of the Year)

Chase Contreraz, Kicker (Special Teams Player of the Year)

Jaylin Noel, Wide receiver (Kick returner/Punt returner of the Year)

Jack Sadowsky V, Linebacker (Defensive Freshman of the Year)

Jarrod Hufford, Offensive lineman (Offensive Lineman of the Year)

First/Second Team Honorable Mentions:

Benjamin Brahmer, Tight end

Beau Freyler, Defensive back

Tyler Onyedim, Defensive lineman

Domonique Orange, Defensive lineman

Tyler Perkins, Punter

Gerry Vaughn, Linebacker

Malik Verdon, Defensive back

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