Notebook: Highlights from Campbell’s pre-camp presser

Redshirt freshman Sean Foster lines up on the offensive line during the spring football game at Jack Trice Stadium on April 8. 

Spencer Suckow

Head Coach Matt Campbell spoke to the media after the announcement of Iowa State’s partnership with MidAmerican Energy by Athletic Director Jamie Pollard.

The team will report for fall camp on Thursday with the first official practice coming on Friday. Here are a few takeaways from Campbell’s presser heading into the beginning of camp.

Undecided Position Battles

When Iowa State released its first depth chart of the season back on July 16, there were multiple positions without a concrete starter.

While that’s to be expected heading into fall camp, Campbell did briefly touch on a few of those position battles during his presser. The first was the offensive line, which Campbell previously said was the deepest its been since his arrival in late 2015.

The line as a whole is returning a combined 51 career starts between four players heading into 2018.

While it seems like a safe bet that returning players such as Julian Good-Jones, Josh Knipfel and Bryce Meeker will be starters come September 1, Campbell did point out that there’s still plenty to be decided on the O-Line as camp begins.

“There’s more guys that deserve the right to be mentioned that are fighting for those spots,” Campbell said. “But the five starters, who are they? I couldn’t tell you that right now.”

Campbell also mentioned that the three starting linebackers have yet to be decided. 

Redshirt senior Willie Harvey and redshirt junior Marcel Spears Jr. seem to be locks for two of the spots, but Campbell also specifically mentioned fellow redshirt senior Reggan Northrup and redshirt freshman O’Rien Vance as standouts among those vying for the third starting spot.

Finally, safety was also mentioned as a question mark for Iowa State as it looks to replace graduates Kamari Cotton-Moya and Everett Edwards. 

JUCO transfer Greg Eisworth and redshirt sophomore Lawrence White appear to be the early favorites to win the two starting jobs, but Campbell said that he’ll ultimately play who he trusts in regards to every position.

A Clean Bill of Health

When asked about the team’s health, Campbell said that the Cyclones are, essentially, at full strength heading into Friday’s first practice.

Other than senior receiver Carson Epps, who’s slightly limited coming off of back surgery late last season, Campbell said that no other player is dealing with an injury at the moment.

Campbell credited Director of Strength and Conditioning Rudy Wade, Head Trainer Mark Coberley and the rest of the strength and athletic training staffs for developing and executing the offseason program that led to the team’s healthy outlook. 

“We’re in great shape,” Campbell said. “I thought we had a great plan this summer.  Then obviously credit to our kids for taking care of themselves.”

Impact of Leo and Tongamoa

At this time last summer, many Iowa State fans were excited by the potential two new arrivals: defensive end Matt Leo and defensive tackle Kamilo Tongamoa.

For different reasons, though, neither played a role in the Cyclones’ 2017 season. 

Leo and Tongamoa came to campus as two highly-rated JUCO prospects that chose Iowa State over the likes of Oklahoma and Oregon, respectively. However, Leo dealt with multiple injuries and ended up redshirting the 2017 season, while Tongamoa barely saw the field after joining the team late due to academic issues.

Coming into this season, Campbell gushed about the physical talent the two possess and the progress both have made in a calendar year.  

For Leo, Campbell said that the team was ready to give the now-redshirt junior snaps toward the end of last season if he hadn’t already been redshirted, but that the they’re excited about his prospects for the coming year.

“I”m really optimistic about Matt,” Campbell said. I think that’s a good, interesting race between him and Enyi (Uwazurike) at that defensive end spot and those are two guys who have very similar traits and similar opportunity.”

Moving on to Tongamoa, Campbell touted the redshirt senior’s athleticism and position flexibility. Campbell said that Tongamoa can play multiple postions along the defensive line, including both the end and three-technique spots.

Campbell also credited Tongamoa for the work he’s put in off the field when it comes to transforming his body.

“Kamilo, which is intriguing is he’s in the best shape of his life,” Campbell said. “He’s lost 25 pounds since he’s been here and now he has a full year in our training facility and our training program.”

While Iowa State showed last season that it had plenty of depth and talent along the defensive line even without the pair, Campbell said that both players will compete for significant playing time.

“Both those guys we’re counting on,” Campbell said. “Both those guys have done a great job this summer and both guys certainly can provide depth and even have the opportunity to, if they have a great camp, challenge for starting spots.”