Notebook: Allen Lazard catches first NFL touchdown while young Cyclones impress

Brock Purdy hands the ball off to Breece Hall in Iowa State’s away game against West Virginia on Oct. 12. The Cyclones beat the Mountaineers 38-14.

Matt Belinson

After a win over West Virginia on Saturday, Iowa State has plenty to celebrate as the team heads to Texas Tech to continue its October win streak, whether it be the blowout of West Virginia, in which Breece Hall and Joseph Scates continued to impress teammates and coaches, or Monday night, when a former Cyclone caught his first career NFL touchdown on Monday Night Football.

Former Cyclone gets first NFL touchdown

The first question of head coach Matt Campbell’s press conference Tuesday was not an unexpected one, as former Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard caught his first career NFL touchdown Monday night for the Green Bay Packers.

Aaron Rodgers found the former Cyclone for a 35-yard touchdown as Green Bay was on its way to a comeback against the Lions. Lazard had four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown for the Packers on Monday.

Green Bay would end up winning the game and Campbell was not surprised that Lazard found a way to make an impact.

“I think what you saw Monday night is what you are going see a lot more of in the future from him because of how hard he’s worked to get be the best version of him he can be,” Campbell said. 

Lazard graduated Iowa State in 2017 and went undrafted in the NFL, but he ended up making the practice squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Lazard would get cut and would then be signed by Green Bay in 2018.

Tight end Charlie Kolar redshirted his first collegiate season in 2017 and was on the roster in Lazard’s last season with Iowa State, allowing Kolar an opportunity to learn different ways to use his big frame at the tight end position. Kolar initially played wide receiver before coming to Iowa State and learned some things from Lazard.

Kolar was quite excited for the former Cyclone to make a big play in the NFL, but was also happy Iowa State was on the positive side of the referees Monday night.

“That was a heck of a play and I’m pretty excited for him,” Kolar said. “I actually thought he was down short of the goal line on replay but I’m happy for Iowa State to get a call — so that was good.”

Lazard caught his first NFL reception last season for a seven-yard catch on his only target of the season.

Campbell said he and Lazard had conversations as the Cyclone jumped from being cut by Jacksonville to making the Packers’ roster as a special teams player.

Campbell credits Lazard’s success to his drive to be the best and said that Lazard and the 2017 senior class is responsible for the turnaround Iowa State has seen in the last two seasons.

“[Lazard] was part of the ‘Joel Lanning’ senior class that really flipped it here,” Campbell said. “We’re who we are today because of what he and a lot of his teammates were able to do for our entire football program. We owe a lot to [Lazard] and that senior class.”

Veterans lead young roster into the future 

It’s no secret Iowa State is heavy with young players on both sides of the ball.

With sophomore Brock Purdy leading an offense with youth at the wide receiver, running back and tight end positions, it is hard for Campbell to let the production of a young group go unnoticed. 

Out of Iowa State’s 29 touchdowns this season, 23 of them have been scored by underclassmen. 

Campbell said he has caught wind of the impact the underclassmen have brought on Iowa State, as he noticed during the West Virginia game that every point was scored by a freshman or a sophomore.

“You do have some veteran guys but the bulk of this team and this roster is young,” Campbell said. “The young guys are seeing these veterans that have sacrificed and these young guys are starting to follow suit. When you have a good program that is able to sustain success, it’s got to have great leadership on the top and we are really fortunate right now in our program that that exists.”

Joe Scates and Breece Hall impress after West Virginia 

Continuing the theme of young players being recognized and making impact on Iowa State’s early season success, Breece Hall and Joseph Scates made their names felt the most in Iowa State’s beatdown of West Virginia last Saturday.

Hall got his biggest workload since the Louisiana-Monroe game, where the true freshman running back had five carries for 35 yards. Since the matchup against ULM, Hall had one carry for two yards.

His workload grew against West Virginia and his teammate La’Michael Pettway wasn’t surprised by how Hall took advantage of his opportunity.

“Breece was huge, there was nothing he did that I didn’t expect,” Pettway said. “He is the same guy in practice every day and made the most of it.”

Hall exploded for 132 yards on the ground on 26 carries and scored three times against the Mountaineers.

Aside from Hall’s breakout game running the ball, Joseph Scates impressed his team with maturity as he found the end-zone for the first time as a Cyclone.

After catching his first career touchdown for the Cyclones, the redshirt freshman got emotional and even went so far as to jump on the back of Campbell on the sideline out of pure excitement.

Pettway — a fellow wide receiver — was glad Scates celebrated the way he did because a first touchdown only increases one’s confidence.

“On your first one, you have to show that expression,” Pettway said.”[Scates] is young and for him to score so early, that is huge for him and will be motivation.”

Pettway has only been with Iowa State for a few months now, but he said he could tell right away Scates was a mature person. Pettway said that Scates’s maturity has come a long way from when Pettway first met him this year.

Similar to Pettway, Tarique Milton has seen the growth in Scates’ maturity and dedication to football. Milton, a sophomore, was a big contributor in Iowa State’s passing game in his freshman season, while Scates redshirted his freshman season.

Milton said Scates has matured a lot and has gotten himself more invested into the game itself. Milton said a freshman like Scates who redshirted last season would be more inclined to get the full college experience and not be as invested in football.

Milton said this season Scates has brought a lot of work ethic to his game, which made Milton even happier when he found the end zone against West Virginia like he promised.

“It was exciting because the night before the game [Scates] was saying he was going to do it, so I was waiting on it to happen and it happened,” Milton said.