Family Recipe: Cyclones preparing next defensive leaders


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

(From left to right) Iowa State defensive lineman J.R. Singleton, Will McDonald and Eyioma Uwazurike look at Iowa State’s sideline for a play call against Northern Iowa on Sept. 4, 2021.

Matt Belinson

Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock views the Cyclone defense like a good meal: you should want to share the recipe behind it.

Throughout the 2021 season, Iowa State coaches and cornerstone players worked at building a bridge into the future. And that message got even louder before Iowa State’s loss to Clemson in the Cheez-It Bowl.

Heacock was asked Dec. 26 what Mike Rose, Greg Eisworth, Jake Hummel, Eyioma Uwazurike have meant to the Cyclone defense over the years.

“I think they are the secret sauce, the 3-3-5 has gotten a lot of notoriety,” Heacock said Dec. 26. “The secret sauce is those guys that bought into how we play defense.”

But now, a new generation of the Cyclone defensive family is here.

And Heacock hopes they’re hungry to learn.

There is no rebuild or big switch coming for Iowa State’s defense this season. Heacock told reporters Tuesday, Iowa State is ready to reload and bring the same competitive spirit to the field this upcoming season.

Yes, there’s no Rose, Eisworth, Hummel. But any good formula finds its way down the line for future use.

“They will still be the secret sauce and you hope that the recipe is handed down likes recipes do through the family,” Heacock said. “And that’s what you hope happens.” 

One of the new Cyclones expected to absorb the foundation set by past players on defense is linebacker Colby Reeder.

The redshirt senior linebacker comes to Ames after transferring from Delaware, where he played 35 games. He was named All-CAA Third Team in 2021 with 55 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks and one interception.

He entered the transfer portal after his fourth season at Delaware, and within two weeks, he landed at Iowa State — where he’ll learn his fourth college defensive scheme.

Yes, four defenses. 

“I redshirted my freshman year [at Delaware] but I had one defensive coordinator and then I had a whole coaching change after that year,” Reeder said. “And then I played a couple years with that new [defensive coordinator} and then my last year at Delaware they fired the old DC and then I had a new DC.”

Safe to say, he’s ready to play somewhere with a stable foundation and a system already familiar to those around him.

The Cyclones’ defense has ranked top-four in the Big 12 in scoring defense in the last four seasons and finished second in the Big 12 and ninth nationally in total defense at 310.5 yards per game, only allowing two teams to amass 350 yards of offense.

“I’m really not used to having so many people wanting me to succeed, going out of their way to help you,” Reeder said.