Breaking down the Iowa State football team: Quarterbacks

Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning runs into the endzone during the second half. Lanning would finish the game with 5 rushing touchdowns.

Aaron Marner

Iowa State enters the 2017 football season with a clear No. 1 on the quarterback depth chart. By all accounts, junior Jacob Park will be the starter under center when week one rolls around.

Then again, Joel Lanning entered the 2016 season as the clear starter and, less than a year later, is making the transition to linebacker.

While only one quarterback plays at a time, depth at QB is hugely important, especially for Iowa State.

Last year, Lanning and Park split time. In 2015, Lanning took control of the offense after Sam Richardson failed to lead the team to wins.

In six of the last seven years, Iowa State has had two quarterbacks throw 100 or more passes. You have to go all the back to 2008 to find a time where the Cyclones had just one quarterback throw 50 or more passes in a season.

So while it looks like Jacob Park has the QB1 job locked up, a lot can happen in a season and Iowa State needs to be prepared for the worst.

The Starter

Park enters the 2017 season with a lot of hype surrounding him. After not playing football for several seasons while he transferred between schools, Park jumped in with no spring practices and won the starting job after he threw for 1,791 yards and had a 12/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

With a full year of offseason workouts, a talented receiving corps and a more experienced offensive line, Park has the chance to have a special season for the Cyclones.

Park and receiver Allen Lazard showed some chemistry. Four of Lazard’s seven receiving touchdowns a year ago were thrown by Park, including his longest touchdown catch, a 34-yarder against Texas Tech.

Rookie Deshaunte Jones also found a good connection with Park. Jones, who was second on the team in receiving touchdowns with six, caught four of them from Park.

If the offensive line holds up, Park should have a strong season. In the event that he doesn’t, however, the backups will be needed.

The Backups

This remains a big question mark for Iowa State. What do the Cyclones do with Joel Lanning?

Lanning has thrown for over 2,500 yards and has a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 19/7. He has shown the ability to lead an offense, albeit perhaps not to the level of Park.

Lanning’s ability to run the football, however — he has 15 career rushing touchdowns and gained 4.3 yards per carry last year — makes him a threat whenever he’s on the field.

He may be asked to step in if Iowa State needs a temporary backup.

Iowa State’s two youngest quarterbacks are freshman Devon Moore and redshirt freshman Zeb Noland. Noland missed all of 2016 with an injury but should be 100 percent healthy this season.

Noland and Moore likely won’t be asked to contribute much in 2017, but both should be viable options down the road. According to 247Sports, Noland was the No. 57 pro-style QB in his class and Moore was ranked No. 18 among dual-threat QBs.

2017 Outlook

Iowa State’s QB position should be strong in 2017. Jacob Park showed potential in his 2016 Iowa State campaign. After a full offseason of workouts, Park should be more equipped to lead the team from day one.