Matt Campbell looks to new leadership for the 2018 football season

Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell addresses fans outside of Jack Trice Stadium in preparation for the Spring football game on April 8, 2017.

Brian Mozey

It was his decision.

Coach Matt Campbell had a few discussions with him and his family, but in the end, it was his future at stake.

Campbell received a phone call before classes started this semester with a decision not only Campbell was excited to hear, but Iowa State was wanting to know.

On the other end of the phone was junior cornerback Brian Peavy. It was two simple words that would change the outlook of Iowa State’s defense next season.

Those two words?

I’m staying.

“The feedback from the National Football League came back and stated that his best interest was to stay in school,” Campbell said. “I was really happy that Brian [Peavy] came back because he has tremendous leadership ability and he’s a guy that can help us have success a year from now.”

Campbell said this upcoming season will be an opportunity for Peavy to not only build his leadership abilities as a senior, but also build his skills as a cornerback in the Big 12 Conference.

Peavy isn’t the only player Campbell is relying on this season with a senior class which graduated 22 players including leaders like Allen Lazard, Joel Lanning, Jake Campos, Kamari Cotton-Moya, J.D. Waggoner and Evrett Edwards.

Campbell was happy with how the senior class took on the leadership role last season and hopes it can translate into the upcoming senior class and generations to come.

“Like any program, you’re always going to lose [a senior class],” Campbell said. “You should lose good seniors that have made a big impact and the next group is ready to take over… We still have the heartbeat players that pump the blood into this program.”

Campbell said these heartbeat players come from every position on the team, including special teams. For the running backs, it’s David Montgomery. For the linebackers, it’s Marcel Spears Jr. and Willie Harvey. For the wide receivers, it’s Hakeem Butler. For defensive backs, it’s D’Andre Payne.

Along with the heartbeat players, Campbell and his coaching staff have leaders in all four classifications, which helps for the future of the football program.

For the freshman class this upcoming season, Campbell mentioned kicker Brayden Narveson and his potential to help the special teams unit with multiple positions. He could potentially be the face of Iowa State kicking for the next three or four years.

In the sophomore class, the biggest names that jump out are quarterback Zeb Noland and defensive back Lawrence White. Noland could possibly be the upcoming starting quarterback, depending on situations like Kyle Kempt’s sixth-year status and the competition throughout spring practice.

White took over the roles of Cotton-Moya and Edwards during the AutoZone Liberty Bowl last December as both were out due to team violations. Campbell liked what he saw from White in the game and thinks he could be a big leader for the next couple of seasons.

The junior class has many big names like Montgomery, Butler, Spears Jr. and defensive lineman Ray Lima. Campbell said these are players who could potentially see themselves at the NFL Draft one day, and can lead this 2018 football team to another bowl win and a potential appearance in the Big 12 Championship title game.

Finally, the senior class. This class has a number of impactful players including Payne, Harvey, Peavy, wide receiver Matthew Eaton Jr. and kicker Chris Francis. Campbell said these players understand they only have one more season to make an impact before their Cyclone career is finished.

“I think it’s huge [having different players from different classifications being leaders],” Campbell said. “Year one, we were able to create belief around these walls. Year two, we were able to win football games and put validity in what we were saying and what we were doing. And now, year three, there’s expectations that the process that it takes to get there, to be successful, is in place. Can you continue to match it?”

That’ll be the biggest question coming into the 2018 football season. Can Campbell and the football team take the bowl win from 2017 and reach its expectations for the upcoming season?

The Cyclones finished last season with an 8-5 record overall and a 5-4 record in the Big 12. Now, their sights are still on the same goals, which are to win the Big 12 title game, win a bowl game and win a national championship.

Campbell thinks these goals are possible with this type of team as long as no “egos” get in the way of what him and his coaching staff are planning for the 2018 season.

“I think one of the truisms of this world is you don’t deserve your hopes and dreams,” Campbell said. “You got to work for it and you got to grind to get those.

“I think it’s a unique challenge that I’m excited to see.”