Seniors head into final game at Jack Trice Stadium


Redshirt sophomore Brock Dagel congratulates redshirt senior Jeff Woody after Woody’s fourth quarter touchdown on Saturday, Oct. 26. Iowa State lost to Oklahoma State 58-27.

Luke Manderfeld

This weekend’s ISU football game against Oklahoma State will be the last at Jack Trice Stadium for a number of players, and, while 17 seniors will be departing, their impact will stay with the team for a while longer.

Some of their legacies started in a similar position to where it will end. A few of the seniors entered the stadium and watched on the sidelines as redshirts when the Cyclones took on No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011.

Iowa State left with a victory, one of the biggest in program history, and, four years later, they have another chance at making a similar statement. 

It won’t just be an emotional day for the seniors but for the team overall. And that doubles for motivation.

When the team runs through the tunnel before the game Saturday, ISU coach Paul Rhoads expects each and every player to have an extra boost of motivation to make the seniors’ last game at home a special one. 

“Anytime you put your seniors out there, it should add a little extra motivation for the entire football team,” Rhoads said. “Obviously you count on your seniors playing at the highest level they’ve ever played for one last time in Jack Trice Stadium, getting others around them to play at a higher level of play.”

That’s what Rhoads will remember from this senior class — the drive. What he recalls as the central theme to the departing class doesn’t come from any one season but from an offseason.

Before the 2015 season, senior players showed that drive, striking a chord with Rhoads.

“I know that they knew that they had the opportunity to go out the right way,” Rhoads said. “From January on, they’ve given us leadership. They’re tried to make Iowa State football better, and that means a great deal to me.”

That drive isn’t limited to the senior class. The seniors have made it a point to let the enthusiasm for hard work trickle down to the younger players. And it’s worked.

The departing class has left a lasting impression on the younger generation of ISU football. 

“They just kind of showed me the ropes when I first got here and stuff,” said sophomore Allen Lazard. “They showed me how to work hard. Nothing here is just given to you, so I try to live by that every day and try to show [it] for the young guys and some of my other teammates.”

One senior that Lazard attributed to instilling his values is senior quarterback Sam Richardson. Richardson has recently been relegated to a backup role after Joel Lanning was given the job two weeks ago. 

But even so, Richardson has put up career numbers in his two seasons as a starter. He may not be entering his final home game in the position he wanted to be in, but Rhoads believes that it will mean just as much for Richardson and the fans.

“He’s a tremendous competitor for us,” Rhoads said. “He’s put up great numbers in his time at Iowa State, and I suspect that’s what they’ll recognize when he takes the field Saturday.”

After Lanning played the majority of the past two games, Rhoads was asked if he had any plans for Richardson to see the field against Oklahoma State. 

“We’ll see,” Rhoads said with a smile.

One thing that is for sure, though, is that emotions will run high while tears well up in some eyes. 

“It’s going to be very emotional, I’m sure,” said redshirt senior Brock Dagel. “It’s a long journey. The days are slow, and the years are fast. It’s meant the world to be a Cyclone, and everything that’s gone into it. It’s all going to come to an end here soon as a Cyclone.”

But the team won’t let the emotions cloud its play on the field.

If there is one last wish that the seniors want in their final home game, it’s getting a win against a top-5 team and repeating the upset of 2011. 

“It’s going to be emotional before the game and after the game, but, during the game, it’s going to be like every other time,” said senior Jamison Lalk. “I’m not going to go out there thinking it’s going to be my last time. I’m just going out there like I always do.”