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A Spring Look At Iowa State Football
By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent

2011: 6-7 overall, 3-6 in Big 12, lost Pinstripe Bowl.
Starters returning: Offense 9, defense 6.

Overview
With each significant and stunning victory, Iowa State has continued to build credibility for its football program. Last season, the Cyclones' upset of Oklahoma State provided the biggest boost year.

"It provided us with an incredible amount of exposure and credibility," said coach Paul Rhoads, whose team has recorded eye-catching upsets in each of his first three seasons in Ames. "The game was on national television on a Friday night, it knocked Oklahoma State out of the national championship race.

"Our coaches are out recruiting and people see Iowa State and they remember us because of that game."

Rhoads believes he has perhaps his most talented and deepest team in place for the 2012 season. The Cyclones need to replace six starters on defense but the unit will be anchored by senior linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott; they might be the best duo in the Big 12. Klein was the Big 12's co-defensive player of the year.

The offense has nine returning starters but spring practice failed to provide the answer as to who will be the quarterback. Senior Steele Jantz won the starting job a year ago but was replaced at mid-season by Jared Barnett. Now a sophomore, Barnett battled Steele during spring practice for the starting job but neither gained enough of an edge to be named the starter.

"I think we're right where we started off,'' Rhoads said. "When we get started in August, we'll see who wants to perform. A timetable, I don't know. We'll just see. When I know we've got a (number) one, I'll tell you.''

Running backs James White and Jeff Woody form a productive duo. Iowa State must replace leading receiver Darius Reynolds but Josh Lenz and Aaron Horne figure to be capable replacements. Horne was named the Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year.

Who's missing
Left tackle Kelechi Osemele, defensive end Jake Lattimer, defensive end Patrick Neal, running back Hayworth Hicks, wide receiver Darius Reynolds, linebacker Matt Tau'fo'ou, corner back Leonard Johnson.

Replacements
Wide receiver Jerome Tiller, wide receiver Tad Ecby, quarterback Sam Richardson, wide receiver Chris Young, wide receiver Ja'Quarius Daniels, defensive end Cory Morrisey, running back DeVondrick Nealy.

Spring buzz
Junior running back Shontrelle Johnson is hopeful he'll be able to return to action in August. Johnson, who was the Cyclones' starting running back in the first four games last season, has been sidelined since undergoing neck surgery. He has not been cleared for contact but running backs coach Ken Pope has liked what he has seen from the drills Johnson has been able to participate in. "He had fresh legs and he looked really good," Pope said. "If we get him back - I hope we get him back - he'll be a pleasant surprise for us."

Linebacker Jake Knott (shoulder surgery), cornerback Jeremy Reeves (elbow) and defensive end Roosevelt Maggitt (torn ACL) were all out or limited. Guard Shaban Dika had a torn ACL and didn't participate in spring practice. His return is uncertain. Wide receiver Aaron Horne missed spring practice with a broken collarbone.

When Tom Herman left to become the offensive coordinator at Ohio State, Rhoads promoted Courtney Messingham to coordinate the Cyclones' offense and work with the quarterbacks. One change he made during the spring was to slim down the playbook and make it less complicated. Messingham had previously coached receivers and tight ends for the Cyclones. "We cut down on pass concepts that we didn't use much, so there is less to learn for the receivers," sophomore quarterback Jared Barnett said. "We cut a couple of run plays, making it easier for the offensive line, running backs and us."

Audibles
"Jared Barnett really controls the other 10 guys when he is on the field. I think Steele Jantz has the ability to make more plays because of his escapeability and ability to improvise on the run."
- coach Paul Rhoads on his team's quarterbacks.

"In the past maybe I didn't want to seem stupid. Or that I didn't know the defense, which is clear that I didn't, and now I'm taking the coaching. "If I play fast, take the coaching, relax and stop having to think so much on the football field, I'll be a great player."
- linebacker Jeremiah George

"Your first inclination is, he's going to get so big [that] he's going to have to be a tackle, but he's got enough athleticism that he's going to be able to stay at end. It doesn't matter if he gets to 290 or not; he's going to be able to stay as a defensive end."
- Rhoads on 6-7, 262-pound sophomore defensive end David Irving

2012 Schedule

Sept. 1 Tulsa
Sept. 8 at Iowa
Sept. 15 Western Illinois
Sept. 29 Texas Tech*
Oct. 6 at TCU*
Oct. 13 Kansas State*
Oct. 20 at Oklahoma State*
Oct. 27 Baylor*
Nov. 3 Oklahoma*
Nov. 10 at Texas*
Nov. 17 at Kansas*
Nov. 24 West Virginia*
* - Big 12 Conference game.

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