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Positions to watch: Spring game

Tyler Coe
Ben Niyogi catches a deep ball from Rocco Becht against Memphis in the Liberty Bowl at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee on Dec. 29, 2023.

With the Cyclones’ spring football game coming up Saturday, a few spots in the lineup are still up for grabs with some young players looking to secure time on the field next season.

Third wide receiver spot

The return of Jaylin Noel and Jayden Higgins likely means they will be the two primary receivers heading into next season. The two veteran wideouts combined for 1,803 yards and 13 touchdowns and enter next season as one of the most threatening receiver duos in the Big 12.

But when it comes to the third spot on the depth chart, a few Cyclones have a strong case to earn a more consistent spot on the field. Beni Ngoyi, Daniel Jackson and newcomer Isaiah Alston are all players to keep an eye on for Saturday’s spring game, considering their respective talents.

Jackson is coming off his first full season with the Cyclones and finished with the third-most receiving yards (260) among the wide receivers in 2023. He averaged 16.3 yards per reception in the seven games in which he recorded a catch and had a handful of explosive plays during his junior season.

Ngoyi has the least experience of the three receivers, as he only played in two games for Iowa State last season. Ngoyi ended his true freshman year on a high note with his 46-yard reception in the Liberty Bowl, which was his only catch of the season.

The Nebraska native’s 6-foot-4 frame is hard not to get excited about, as he could be another threat for quarterback Rocco Becht to target outside the numbers.

Alston offers just as much excitement, as he joins the Cyclones for the 2024-25 season. While the Army transfer is still recovering from an ankle injury he sustained early last season, the amount of production he had in four games in a run-heavy offense is promising.

The New Jersey native finished with nine receptions for 266 yards and two touchdowns in his fourth year with the Black Knights. He is another explosive threat who has an opportunity to be utilized more in Iowa State’s offense if he stays healthy.

Backup quarterback

While Rocco Becht will likely enter next season as the starter, the importance of having a talented and available backup is still high in case Becht goes down. The quarterback room is filled with talented players, both new and experienced, in the Cyclones’ system.

J.J. Kohl stands out as the likely No. 2 option for Iowa State, picking up right where he left off last season. The five-star Iowa native played in three games last season, completing nine of his 11 attempts for 23 yards.
According to head coach Matt Campbell, Kohl has improved physically heading into his redshirt freshman season. After losing the quarterback job to Becht heading into last season, Kohl looked serviceable in the little action he saw and made a solid case for himself to continue his role in the fall.

Another Iowa native that Campbell shouted out in the backup quarterback conversation was true freshman Connor Moberly, who has had impressive practices during the spring season. The three-star recruit is coming off back-to-back state titles at Southeast Polk High School and a 25-1 record in his final two prep seasons.

While Moberly will have to compete with Kohl and other veterans in the system, Tanner Hughes and Wyatt Bohm, it should be interesting to see how he performs Saturday.


Another offseason for the Cyclones brings another question mark for the special teams unit. The loss of Chase Contreraz leaves the placekicker position up for grabs, with three likely competitors for the starting spot.

Jace Gilbert is the only candidate with experience at Iowa State. While he was the starter for his true freshman season in 2022, he finished the season connecting on 12 of his 20 field goal attempts and did not have any attempts in 2023.

The bright side for the Oklahoma native is his ability to knock down extra points. He connected on all but one of his 22 attempts in 2022, and now has another year of practice under his belt.

The other two candidates are redshirt freshman Kyle Konrardy and Florida Atlantic transfer Carter Davis.

Davis enters his junior season with little experience kicking field goals at the collegiate level. He had four attempts over his two seasons at FAU, connecting on two, one from 38 yards and the other from 47.

In terms of extra points, Davis is perfect on his 23 attempts over his collegiate career, including 16-for-16 in 2023.

Konrardy did not see any time last season, but could still be considered for the starting role if Davis and Gilbert are not getting the job done.

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