NOTEBOOK: Matt Campbell on recruiting, Kyle Kempt, NFL Draft, Memphis

Head coach Matt Campbell talks into his headset after a play during a game against the Baylor Bears, Oct. 1 in Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones would go on to lose 45-42.

Brian Mozey

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell spoke to the media one last time on Friday before the weekend of holidays. Then, the Cyclones take off on Christmas Day to Memphis, Tennessee, to prepare for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30.

During his last press conference before the busy week, Campbell spoke upon the early signing period for recruits, a handful of NFL draft interest and preparing for the Memphis Tigers next Saturday.

Early Signing Period

Campbell and the Iowa State coaching staff had 18 recruits sign on the dotted line to become an Iowa State Cyclone. It was a group of players that are both local and out of state, while recruiting players that are ranked highly in their respective states.

The biggest talk during the press conference was on the offensive line position. There are three offensive linemen from that group of 18, but all three of them are ranked in the top 10 for their respective states.

Trevor Downing and Zach Ross are following the footsteps of Jake Campos and staying in state for college. Downing and Ross are ranked fourth and 10th in the state of Iowa, according to 247Sports Composite. The other lineman is Joey Ramos who’s ranked sixth in the state of Arizona.

“I think all three guys fit the mold of what we are looking for in offensive linemen,” Campbell said. “I think Zach is more of a center guard. I think Trevor can play all five spots for us. And then getting Joey Ramos, who’s got the skill to play all five spots as well.”

This isn’t the first time Campbell has been successful with offensive linemen at Iowa State. In the 2017 recruiting class, Campbell picked up a few notable names that have been impacts on the Iowa State team this season.

Overall, Campbell is happy with how the recruiting ended up turning out and he said he’s excited about the future, especially with these players being around for the next three or four years.

Kyle Kempt and the quarterback position

Campbell didn’t say anything about Jacob Park and his decision to transfer from Iowa State, but he did bring up a conversation about Kyle Kempt possibly playing one more year as a Cyclone.

The Iowa State coaching staff is asking the NCAA for an extra year for Kempt and petitioning based on the coaching changes Kempt had throughout his college career. Kempt faced many different coaching changes while attending Oregon State and then once again at Hutchinson Community College.

Campbell is hoping that the NCAA sees those coaching changes as a way to give Kempt an extra year to play as the starting quarterback without any coaching changes. The Iowa State head coach used Tanner Lee as an example at Nebraska who received a waiver in 2016 to have one more year of eligibility.

If Kempt receives that extra year or not, Campbell is prepared either way. He recruited a quarterback on Wednesday by the name of Re-Al Mitchell, who’s a dual-threat quarterback. He also has Zeb Noland who played in four games this season and Devon Moore who’s recovering from an ACL injury, but started playing 7-on-7 this past week.

“It really hasn’t [changed anything for the future],” Campbell said. “When we came in that was an area that didn’t have great depth and we were able to create some depth in there.”

The NFL Draft

The NFL Draft doesn’t start until April 26, 2018, but during and after the bowl season, many college players start making decisions on their future.

Allen Lazard is an Iowa State player that faced that decision last season on whether to forgo his senior year or come back to build that portfolio. He decided to come back and, in Campbell’s eyes, it was a great decision for him and this football team.

Lazard will be heading to the NFL Draft after the Liberty Bowl, but Campbell said he’s requested information on a few players. Those players consist of Brian Peavy, Hakeem Butler and D’Andre Payne. Peavy has been considering his decision of going to the NFL Draft or coming back for his senior year next season, but there’s been no decision made yet.

Campbell thinks getting this information is important to the coaches and players to see where they stand for future years to reach that NFL goal at the end of their college careers.

Preparing for Memphis

Iowa State is only eight days away from kicking off against Memphis in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30. Campbell expects to be at full health for the bowl game and in his eyes it looks like the players are as healthy as they were during fall camp.

David Montgomery was injured after the last game against Kansas State at the end of November and Joel Lanning played about 900 snaps of football during the season, so Campbell wanted to give them some rest to not only become healthy, but also focus on finals.

Now that the rest is done and finals are completed, Campbell is waiting for final grades and also getting his team together again to see how everyone is doing physically and mentally before the big game next week.

Campbell said he’s going to need everyone with what he’s seen from Memphis on tape.

“Speed,” Campbell said. “I think the thing really fun to watch of [Memphis] is the ability of speed from this group. A team that really reminds you of a Big 12 football team, so great opponent and great challenge for us.”