Six Cyclone legends return to Iowa State for spring game


Photo: Jake Lovett/Iowa State Daily

Former Iowa State defensive back Leonard Johnson misses a tackle against Kansas State on Dec. 3, 2011.

Aaron Marner

One man stands between Allen Lazard and the top of the Iowa State receiving leaderboards.

Todd Blythe, who played for Iowa state from 2003 to 2007, returned to Ames on Saturday for the Iowa State spring football game. He was one of six former Iowa State football players to be named an honorary captain for the game.

The other honorary captains were Leonard Johnson, David Archer, George Amundson, Lane Danielsen, and Reggie Hayward.

The all-time leader at Iowa State in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and receptions, Blythe had a lot of success at Jack Trice Stadium and said it was fun to be back.

While none of the former players specifically mentioned the coaching staff that preceded Campbell and the current coaches, it was clear that the former players feel the current coaching staff values them more than previous coaches.

“It’s a lot of fun to be back and feel part of things again,” Blythe said. “I’ve talked to a lot of guys and it was a feeling that was missing for a while — not that we weren’t welcome, but we just weren’t as encouraged to come back as we are now.”

Blythe, along with former Cyclone and current Carolina Panther Leonard Johnson, singled out coach Matt Campbell as the driving force in getting former players to return to Iowa State and help with the team.

“They started reaching out immediately [after coming to Iowa State],” Blythe said. “They’ve really kept up with us through phone calls and emails and things like that.

Blythe also mentioned a mentor program where former players take time to talk with current seniors on the team about life after college, saying it helps former players stay connected.

“[Campbell] called me several times,” Johnson said. “It means a lot.”

Johnson said he’s grateful that the coaching staff has reached out to former players.

“It’s fun getting around the younger guys and kind of giving them some good advice,” Johnson said. “These kids already know what’s expected. They just need a little extra help and some guidance from a former player.”

David Archer, who played quarterback at Iowa State in the early 1980s, also said he feels welcomed by the coaching staff.

“It’s really cool to be able to come back,” Archer said. “I don’t get the chance to come back here during the season.

“The energy that coach Campbell has influxed into this building, into the program is phenomenal. If you’re an Iowa State fan, you can feel it. As a former player, it makes you proud.”