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Cyclone linebacker room focuses on growth, leadership with new coach

Jack+Sadowsky+V+celebrates+after+the+42-35+win+over+Kansas+State+at+Bill+Snyder+Family+Stadium+on+Nov.+25%2C+2023+in+Manhattan%2C+Kansas.
Jacob Rice
Jack Sadowsky V celebrates after the 42-35 win over Kansas State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 25, 2023 in Manhattan, Kansas.

As the spring football season begins, the Iowa State linebacker group will be looking to further its growth while finding leadership within the core with a new linebacker coach who has familiarity with the program.

Back in February, the Cyclones hired Colby Kratch as the linebackers coach to replace long-time coach Tyson Veidt, who took the job of defensive coordinator at Cincinnati in January.

Kratch had previously been with Iowa State from 2017-2022 as the Assistant Director of Player Personnel, before leaving to coach North Texas’ linebacker room for the 2023 season.

The transition of coaches could cause some trouble getting used to, but linebacker Jack Sadowsky V believes that the group has acclimated well to their new coach.

“It’s been a really good transition,” Sadowsky said. “Every linebacker loves our new coach and thinks he’s gonna help us go to the next level as a linebacker core.”

While Kratch has had familiarity with some of the linebackers from his previous years with the Cyclones, he noted this new group is looking to reach new heights heading into the 2024 season.

“They’re really big and a really smart group,” Kratch said. “They work hard and care about each other which I think is the most important thing. They’re hungry, want to be coached and when you teach them new techniques they pick that up fast, so it’s been fun to work with them.”

But a challenge that could arise for Kratch and his group will be seeing who comes out as the new leader of the linebacker group. In the past couple of seasons, Iowa State relied on former linebacker Gerry Vaughn to be the sole leader of the young linebacker room.

Now with Vaughn exhausting his eligibility from his six seasons as a Cyclone, a new opportunity arises for one or more players to lead the linebackers room for the 2024 season and beyond.

Kratch believes the leadership role can be shared and not held by one specific player.

“I think it’s gonna be leadership by committee,” Kratch said. “When you talk about Caleb Bacon coming back with a more veteran, age-wise guy in the room. [Carson Willich] has taken a bunch of reps through the years, even John Klosterman, who’s pivotal on special teams, has taken some reps and has been a great leader in the room.”

Luckily for Iowa State, a lot of its linebackers were retained for this upcoming year, and are now looking to prove themselves as one of the best, if not the best units in the country for the foreseeable future.

“I think everyone in the room has something to prove this year,” Sadowsky said. “I think as a core, we had a lot we needed to work on as a young group, but now we don’t have that excuse. We’re not a young group anymore, so someone is gonna step up and take that leadership position, and it might be multiple people who do that.”

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Jacob Rice, Visual Editor
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