Joel Lanning: Mr. Everything

Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning is embraced by a member of the Iowa State offensive line after scoring in the first half against Baylor.

Jack Macdonald

Welcome to stardom, Joel Lanning. 

It’s not hard to gain attention when you play quarterback and linebacker in one game, nor is hard to do so when you upset the No. 3 team in the country on the road and somehow seem to have done everything for your team.

“He’s got 20 tackles, five touchdowns in one game and an [interception],” said redshirt senior Kamari Cotton-Moya. “I don’t know what he can’t do. You name it, he can do it.”

That’s just what Lanning did last Saturday against Oklahoma in Norman. Prior to Saturday’s contest, coach Matt Campbell announced that quarterback Jacob Park would not be with the team, leaving many questions unanswered.  

Who was going to play quarterback? Would Lanning play quarterback? Would Lanning play both ways?

The answer to the first: Kyle Kempt. The latter two: yes.

Lanning played 78 snaps, including 57 on defense, 13 on offense and eight on special teams. It was a true test of ones durability and stamina. And the redshirt senior answered the call with flying colors. 

“He played special teams, he played defense, he played offense and that’s something we have to be very cognizant about,” said offensive coordinator Tom Manning. “Obviously you like to do some things with him, but at the same time there’s a typing point there where it’s got to be, what are we doing with Joel?”

By the end of the game, Lanning had recorded eight tackles, 35 rushing yards and 25 passing yards. However, quite possibly the biggest play of Lanning’s ultra-long outing came with a little over 5:30 remaining in the third quarter. 

Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield and the Sooners offense were rolling at the Iowa State five-yard line, until a handoff to Trey Sermon was fumbled and pounced on by one Cyclone in particular. 

“We didn’t have many opportunities on Saturday as a defense for turnovers,” Lanning said. “The one turnover we got was very big and might have been the turning point honestly because they were driving on us.”

Yes, Joel Lanning is correct. The fumble recovery came as the Cyclones trailed 24-16 and in turn, had a 94-yard drive waiting in front off them. Then, it was as if Hilton Magic had made its way down to Norman. The Cyclones marched down the field for their longest scoring drive of the season that ended with a pass to Marchie Murdock. 

One problem, the Cyclones were still down two. In comes Kempt for a two point conversion, the walk-on quarterback that took over for Park. Kempt, as if he had done it a thousand times, calmly delivered a bullet to Allen Lazard in the end zone, silencing Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and Oklahoma’s momentum. 

With the game tied at 26, there was a feeling that the unthinkable would happen. However, the Iowa State defense had to hold them for 20 more minutes. Again, cue Mr. Everything, Joel Lanning. 

In those final 20 minutes, Lanning had four tackles, one of which was a sack and two rushes for 13 yards. His biggest play of the day didn’t wind up on the stat sheet, but it did secure Iowa State’s first win against Oklahoma since 1990.

With a little over one minute remaining, Mayfield and the Sooners fourth and four. Guess what? Lanning got pressure on Mayfield and forced an incomplete pass. 

Game over. Iowa State wins.

Dubbed the biggest upset in Iowa State football history, naturally, memes of Lanning circulated the internet. Fans were calling for Lanning to be named the Iowa State President, to bring VEISHEA back and his personal favorite, the comparison to Ironman.  

“There’s so many, but everyone is just calling me Ironman,” Lanning said. “I don’t even know where they got that from, but I’ll take it.”

Along with being called Ironman, there was also a rumor flying around Ames that there was nothing that the linebacker and now quarterback again, couldn’t do. 

But, in came fellow senior Jake Campos. Campos, who shed some light on what Lanning can’t do may have created some turmoil in revealing the secret to the one thing Lanning can’t do. 

He handles everything pretty well and there’s nothing he’ll say no to,” Campos said. “Off the field? Maybe algebra or something.”

Lanning, however, countered the offensive lineman and quickly shot down the statement. But, Kempt was quick to also say Lanning may have trouble doing computer science homework. 

Going forward, whether he can do everything or not, Lanning and the rest of the Cyclones are focused on the rest of the Big 12 season, rather than riding the high of an upset win. 

“We’re not going to cap our season off just because we beat Oklahoma,” Lanning said.