Revamped offensive line starting to take shape for Iowa State

Redshirt junior offensive lineman Jake Campos poses for media day on Aug. 9 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Austin Anderson

One of the biggest unknowns for Iowa State football is starting to take shape.

Four of the five starters are gone from last season’s offensive line that was, at times, a makeshift unit.

Redshirt sophomore Julian Good-Jones is the lone returner up front for the Cyclones. As Iowa State prepared for the annual spring football game this Saturday, the Cyclones held a scrimmage that saw Good-Jones start at center, along with four fresh faces beside him.

Redshirt freshman Sean Foster got the nod at left tackle next to Robby Garcia at left guard. Oge Udeugo started the scrimmage at right guard and Bryce Meeker was the starter at right tackle.

Jake Campos, who has 23 starts on his resume for Iowa State, was a noticeable absence from the starting lineup in last Saturday’s scrimmage. He is still being held back slightly following a broken leg that kept him off the field for the entire 2016 season.

“Jake is a really hard-working kid,” said Tom Manning, who is both the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. “If you let him, he would’ve loved to rock and roll as much as anybody, but I think we have to be really smart with his progression coming back, and you certainly don’t want to lose a really good asset to your football program in practice.”

While the coaching staff is being cautious with him, Campos said earlier this spring he is fully healthy.

“I’m definitely playing my best football right now,” Campos said.

Campos is Iowa State’s biggest and most experienced offensive lineman. There is little doubt he’ll be a starter when the fall rolls around. There is doubt, however, where exactly he will line up on the offensive line.

All of Campos’ 23 starts have come at left tackle. Foster has impressed on the left side so far this spring and, even though he redshirted last season, has experience traveling and being on the sideline for Big 12 games.

The other option is to put Campos at right tackle where Meeker, who coach Matt Campbell called the “most consistent” player on the offensive line, has been starting.

“I think [finding where to play Campos] is a big piece we have to figure out with him,” Manning said.

Even though the line is starting to take shape, all of the pieces to that puzzle haven’t yet arrived on campus.

Some potential additions to the offensive line are the five incoming freshmen that Iowa State signed for the 2017 recruiting class.

It remains to be seen if any will be contributors for the Cyclones in 2017 but if history repeats itself for the coaching staff, that seems unlikely.

“That’s something we’re really upfront with offensive lineman,” Manning said. “We’ve always redshirted our freshmen.”

One addition Iowa State won’t be getting its Southern California grad transfer Khalil Rodgers, who decommitted from the Cyclones to play closer to home at North Carolina.

Michigan grad transfer Dave Dawson is still committed and is expected to make a strong case to earn a starting spot at one of the guard positions.

“It’s very competitive,” Campos said of the offensive line. “We’ve got a lot of guys out there that can play and a lot of guys that are showing some really good things right now.”