Iowa State quarterback Zeb Noland is ready for anything

Quarterback Zeb Noland looks at the scoreboard during a game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 11 at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State fell to the Cowboys, 49-42.

Brian Mozey

When redshirt freshman quarterback Zeb Noland ran out into the huddle last weekend against Oklahoma State, he was excited and blessed to have the opportunity to play. He was never scared.

He was ready for anything that came his way.

That’s the philosophy he’s had throughout the season because at any moment he knew he could be the quarterback under center. Especially when Jacob Park took a leave of absence the day before the Oklahoma game on Oct. 7.

“We went to two quarterbacks on the depth chart and two quarterbacks traveling,” Noland said. “It was inevitable that if something happened, I had to play. I had to be almost more prepared than the starter.”

That’s exactly what happened, but it took time. When Park took his absence, the coaching staff decided to use redshirt senior Kyle Kempt as the No. 1 quarterback over Noland.

With that type of decision, you’d think Noland would be upset. Instead, he was grateful because he said Kempt was beating him at practice during that time and deserved to have that spot.

During those weeks where Noland was the No. 2 quarterback, he worked on every aspect of his game because he knew coach Matt Campbell could be calling on him at any moment. That call came with 2:13 left in the second quarter last Saturday.

He threw 263 passing yards in the 49-42 loss to the Cowboys, but after the game, Noland was able to reflect on that call and the process leading up to it.

Noland grew up in Watkinsville, Georgia, and had a father, Travis Noland, who knew quite a bit about football.

Travis Noland played quarterback at Appalachian State and later became a coach for his son during his childhood. Zeb Noland said his father taught him the ways to becoming the quarterback he is today and offensive coordinator Tom Manning loved it.

“[Zeb Noland]’s dad is a really good football coach,” Manning said. “His dad coached him really hard too… and you can see it in the pro-style offense he did [back in high school].”

That help from his father allowed Noland to be done with high school a semester early and join the Iowa State football team in January of 2016. He said it was the best decision for him to come early because it allowed him to be more prepared for his opportunity.

He said he wasn’t able to go to prom because it was the same weekend as the spring game for football, but he was able to walk with his high school friends at graduation, which was a big moment for him.

Then, in August of 2016, Noland tore his ACL and was out for the season. Even though the injury wasn’t what he was expecting, it taught him patience and allowed him to watch and learn rather than practice.

Along with the injury, Noland wasn’t able to travel with the team, so he resorted to doing activities on the weekends when Iowa State was on the road.

The activities he focused on were outdoor activities and he still loves them to this day.

“I love to go hunting and fishing,” Zeb Noland said. “I wish I had more time to hunt right now, but that’s OK. I’m trying to get Allen [Lazard] into hunting right now.”

Lazard’s response?

“I need to go with him sometime before I leave,” Lazard said.

Noland enjoys hunting everything. From deer to ducks to geese to rabbits, he enjoys it all. He also enjoys fishing for swordfish or, if he’s in the Iowa area, largemouth and smallmouth bass.

The hunting and fishing allowed him to not think about the injury or the physical therapy or the process to becoming 100 percent. He really enjoys it and hopes to teach some of the Iowa State players during the three more years he’s got as a Cyclone.

Now, he’s focused on the next two games of the regular season and, later, the bowl game in December. Sometimes a little too focused.

Manning said Noland always gets mad at himself every time he doesn’t make a throw or doesn’t run the right play. He’ll get angry for a few moments after the play and then he’ll regroup and run the next play.

Manning loves his fire because it shows he cares about his improvements each day and wants to continue getting better as a quarterback and as a teammate.

Noland said he was worse in high school because he couldn’t regroup after a bad pass. It would stick with him for the rest of practice or the game and it would affect the outcome of games sometimes.

“I used to get really mad and it would affect me the whole day,” Noland said. “Now, I kind of just brush it off, pretty much laugh at it, because it’s something I can control.”

Now, Noland said he wants to come out of this season with a win and give the fans what they deserve after this 2017 season. He will continue to keep practicing at 100 percent no matter who is the No. 1 quarterback.

Because he’s always going to be ready.