Julian Good-Jones: Iowa State’s unique leader at left tackle

Iowa State’s senior starting left tackle Julian Good-Jones is asked questions Aug. 1 at Iowa State’s media day.

Noah Rohlfing

Iowa State’s starting left tackle has been nearly everywhere since his time with the Cyclones began in 2015 — and that’s just on the field. 

Off the field, he says he’s grown a lot and learned a ton from the coaches he’s had. 

But Julian Good-Jones has navigated a lot of change in the Cyclones’ football program to get where he is now: an Iowa native starting his final two home games in front of near-sellouts at Jack Trice Stadium, with a chance to secure a winning record in three consecutive seasons. 

“It’s coming up here,” Good-Jones said. “You never think about it, you know, you just keep going.”

When Good-Jones arrived, Iowa State football was in a turbulent place. Head coach Paul Rhoads — who helped recruit Good-Jones to Iowa State out of Cedar Rapids Washington High School — was on the hot seat after a disappointing 2-10 season the year prior. Good-Jones was an inexperienced right tackle, who came in primed for a redshirt season to get his feet under him. 

Then Rhoads got fired after a disastrous 3-9 season, and suddenly Good-Jones — along with all the other returning Cyclones recruited by Rhoads — was left in the lurch, waiting to see who was next in line. It turned out to be Matt Campbell of Toledo, who brought along Tom Manning as his offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. 

Manning and Good-Jones gelled, and soon Good-Jones was a starter at right tackle. But the team wasn’t winning games. 

“We were close, and you could see it getting there,” Good-Jones said. “The end of the year, when we got that big win over Tech, that was when it was like, ‘OK, we can do something.'”

Another 3-9 season came and went as the team settled into life under Campbell. But as always, Good-Jones’ role with the team was changing. 

Over the season and into spring practice of 2017, Good-Jones said Manning would keep asking him if he had ever thought of playing center, and if he had ever snapped a football. It got Good-Jones thinking they were trying to change his position.

He was right.

The change happened in the spring, and the then-redshirt sophomore started every game for the 2017 Cyclones in a position he had never played before.

Part of that season was possibly the Cyclones’ biggest win in Good-Jones’ career — a come-up-from-behind win on the road against No. 3 Oklahoma. 

Good-Jones saw the win as proof of progress for the team. 

After the 2017 season, he underwent yet another position change — from center to left tackle (apart from one of the 13 games Iowa State played), where he has stayed for the past year-plus. The season was up and down for the Cyclone, as he was suspended for a violation of team rules ahead of the game that never happened against South Dakota State. He didn’t fall foul of Campbell again and said he has learned a lot from the fourth-year coach.

“Most everything in football translates to real life,” Good-Jones said. “And I think the thing that I’ve learned is just to work hard and persevere.”

With his college football career drawing to a close, Good-Jones has been praised by Campbell and his teammates for his commitment and growth during his career.

Campbell said Good-Jones’ growth has been an example for many in the program.

“I’m really proud of Julian,” Campbell said. “Here’s a guy that’s been through a lot, and we know that, it’s been documented — we can all talk about that. But what I’ve always seen about Julian is this amazing spirit; who he really is is really special. He’s got great leadership ability, because he’s got a unique ability to get along with everybody in our program. He’s got a big heart — he’s always done what’s best for the team.”

His ability to adapt and change positions has helped make the senior compatible with different position partners, including redshirt freshman left guard Trevor Downing. Downing gained the position when Collin Olson moved to center after an injury to Colin Newell, and he said playing with Good-Jones has helped his growth.

“Julian, really a veteran guy here, really helps playing next to him,” Downing said. 

Good-Jones is a rare four-year starter for the Cyclones at the offensive line position — a home-state kid who has changed positions twice, had three different offensive line coaches and had countless different linemen groupings. 

But he said he’s had no thoughts about what happens after football — whether that involves an NFL career, XFL career or something else.

One thing he is certain of is the emotion that’ll show up when he walks out ahead of the Kansas game — his final outing in Jack Trice Stadium. 

“Ames is somewhere I’ve spent the past four or five years, and you don’t want it to end,” Good-Jones said. “But it’s something that happens.”