Iowa State football: depth chart takeaways

Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt looks to throw during the first half of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl against the Memphis Tigers on Dec. 30, 2017.

Noah Rohlfing and Trevor Holbrook

Iowa State released its first football two-deep depth chart of the season on Monday as part of the Big 12 Media Days in Frisco, Texas. Football reporters Trevor Holbrook and Noah Rohlfing cover a few of their initial takeaways.

Quarterbacks are as expected

When Iowa State released its pre-fall depth chart, the quarterbacks were listed first. The Cyclones have a history of plugging in multiple quarterbacks throughout a season, and last season was no exception.

Jacob Park, Kyle Kempt and Zeb Noland made starts under center last season, along with Joel Lanning taking snaps at quarterback.

With a handful of ORs scattered on the depth chart, the quarterback position was one of the more clear positions.

As the two-deep depth chart sits in July, senior quarterback Kyle Kempt sits atop the depth chart with Noland at the back-up spot.

Kempt showed consistency with 1,787 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions in nine games last season.

While Kempt has the job secure right now, the Cyclones have a solid option behind him. Noland played in four games, tossing two touchdowns and an interception with 533 yards.

Offensive Line uncertainty

Another unit that has plagued Iowa State in past seasons is the offensive line. This year, the Cyclones benefit from experience in the trenches.

Redshirt junior Bryce Meeker and redshirt sophomore Sean Foster will protect Kempt on the edge with Meeker listed as the right tackle and Foster as the left.

The tackle duo played in 10 games a piece last season.

The experience continues at right guard and center. Right guard Josh Knipfel played in all 13 games last season. At center, the versatile Julian Good-Jones played in all 13 games, as well. The center position also has an OR with Ames native Colin Newell who redshirted in his initial college season.

At left guard, there’s more uncertainty. Redshirt sophomore Josh Mueller and redshirt seniors Oge Udeogu and Will Windham are all in the mix. Windham played in 11 games last season, but he mostly saw the field through special teams.

Mueller saw the field in two games, and Udeogu missed the season due to injury. With Good-Jones’ experience at multiple positions on the offensive line, the redshirt junior could be a candidate to slide into the left guard position.

O’Brien Vance has the floor

The redshirt freshman linebacker has been put at the top of the charts at Joel Lanning’s departed middle linebacker position.

It’s been a quick rise for Vance after redshirting in his first season with the Cyclones. He was mentioned multiple times by linebackers coach Tyson Veidt as a player to watch in the wide-open linebacker competition, and he’s done enough to head into fall camp as a starter.

It’s not a position that’s locked down, though. Senior Reggan Northrup, currently second in the outside linebacker depth chart behind Willie Harvey, will have his chance when fall camp begins to dethrone Vance.

It may not be the case come September, but it’s certainly a good start for the Iowa native.

Defensive Line is a position of strength

With JaQuan Bailey, Ray Lima, Enyi Uwazurike and Jamahl Johnson as the starters and Kamilo Tongamoa and Matt Leo as one of the notable backups, there’s a lot of talent on the defensive line for Iowa State.

The defense was one of the best in the Big 12 last season and the line was a big part of that success. Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock has mixed and matched formations over his first two season at Iowa State, often moving from a 4-3 base set to a 3-4/3-3-5 look depending on the opposition.

Barring injury, the Cyclones will head into the regular season with a top-3 defensive line unit in the Big 12.