A Closer Look At Brock Purdy’s 21 School Records

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AMES, Iowa – Sometimes you have to remind yourself that Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy just finished his sophomore season.

The All-Big 12 signal caller has packed in a lot of memories and moments in two seasons directing the Cyclone offense. Iowa State has qualified for two bowl games and tied for third in the Big 12 standings in each of the last two seasons with the Gilbert, Ariz., native at the helm of the offensive attack.

Besides being one of the winningest quarterbacks in the history of the program – he’s 14-8 overall and 11-5 vs. Big 12 competition – Purdy is also governing an all-out assault on the Iowa State record book.

Purdy currently owns or shares 21 school records (game, season, career) in his short time in Ames. The bulk of these school marks occurred in his record-setting sophomore season in 2019, a campaign featuring the most explosive offense in Iowa State history.

Twenty-one records is a lot, and there will be more in the future.

Here is a quick look at all of Purdy’s records with a little insight behind a few of them.

Game Records
1. Total Offense: 510 vs. ULM in 2019. Former Record: 493, Austen Arnaud vs. Kansas State in 2008; Seneca Wallace vs. Missouri in 2002

Behind The Record
Purdy’s performance vs. ULM was phenomenal. The Cyclones put up 72 points, the third-highest scoring effort in the history of the program. What gets lost in Purdy’s total is how many more yards he could have gathered that day. He did all of his damage, which included 435 yards passing and 75 yards rushing, in just three quarters. Austen Arnaud and Seneca Wallace shared the former record with 493. Wallace did it first in 2002 vs. Missouri, and the Cyclones needed it all that day to defeat the Tigers 42-35. Wallace single-handily willed the Cyclones to victory with 425 passing yards and 68 yards on the ground.

2. Passing Touchdowns: 5 vs. Oklahoma in 2019. Shares Record With: 5, Steele Jantz vs. Baylor in 2012; Todd Bandhauer vs. Texas in 1998

Behind The Record
Purdy’s never-give-up mentality was on display at No. 9 Oklahoma last year. With 3:47 remaining in the third quarter, the Cyclones were down 42-21. Purdy rallied the troops, however, staging a miraculous comeback with three fourth quarter touchdown passes. His record-tying fifth TD toss was a 13-yarder to All-American Charlie Kolar to trim the lead to 42-41 with a mere 0:24 seconds left. There was no doubt head coach Matt Campbell was going for the win and sent in the offense for a two-point conversion try. ISU’s upset bid fell short on a controversial incompletion to La’Michael Pettway. Steele Jantz was the last Cyclone before Purdy to toss five touchdowns in a game (vs. Baylor in 2012). The Cyclones won that evening 35-21, as all five touchdowns came from Jantz’ arm, including three scores by Jarvis West (23, 7, 22). Jantz finished the game with 381 yards through the air.

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Brock Purdy tied a school record with five touchdown passes, including three in the fourth quarter, at No. 9 Oklahoma in 2019.

  1. Touchdowns Responsible: 6 vs. ULM, vs. Oklahoma in 2019. Shares Record With: 6, Bret Oberg vs. Oklahoma in 1989

Behind The Record
It took 30 years for a Cyclone to equal Bret Oberg’s school mark of six touchdowns responsible in a game until Purdy rushed for three scores and threw a trio of touchdowns in a 72-20 win over ULM. Seven weeks later, Purdy did it again at Oklahoma with five touchdown throws and one rushing touchdown. Oberg’s mark appeared hard to break until Purdy made it look easy. Oberg’s big day vs. No. 25 Oklahoma (L, 43-40) is often rehashed by Cyclone fans. The junior college transfer had a fantastic senior campaign, leading the Cyclones to a 6-5 mark and a 4-3 record in Big Eight play. Oberg had help from All-American running back Blaise Bryant, but on that October day in 1989, Oberg was clicking on all cylinders at Jack Trice Stadium. Oberg threw for four touchdowns and rushed for two. He amassed 411 passing yards, one of only five 400-yard passing games in school history, hooking up with wide receiver Steve Lester for 203 yards, tying for the third-best receiving effort in school history.

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Bret Oberg was the first Cyclone to throw for over 400 yards (411) and record six touchdowns in a game vs. No. 25 Oklahoma in 1989.

  1. Completions: 39 vs. Oklahoma State in 2019. Former Record: 37, Sam Richardson vs. Toledo in 2014

Behind The Record
Purdy completed 39 passes in a 34-27 loss to Oklahoma State this past season, breaking a record set five years prior by Sam Richardson. Both games occurred in Jack Trice Stadium with Matt Campbell on the sidelines. Campbell was the head coach at Toledo when Richardson connected on 37 attempts in a 37-30 Cyclone victory over the Rockets.

5. Passing Attempts: 62 vs. Oklahoma State in 2019. Shares Record With: 62, Todd Bandhauer vs. Texas in 1998

6. Passing Yards In A Half: 308 (1st half) vs. Texas Tech in 2019. Former Record: 284, Austen Arnaud vs Kansas State in 2008

Behind The Record
Purdy compiled 378 passing yards in Iowa State’s 34-24 win at Texas Tech, the 8th-best single-game passing effort in school history. Included in that total was a whopping 308 yards before intermission to give the Cyclones a 20-7 lead at the break. He had three strikes of 38 yards or longer, including a 61-yard swing pass to Breece Hall to juice his impressive first-half stat line.

7. Passing Yards In A Quarter: 207 (3rd quarter) vs. ULM in 2019. Former Record: 202, Austen Arnaud vs. Kansas State in 2008

Behind The Record
What is amazing is that Purdy set school records for most passing yards in a quarter and a half during the 2019 season, but he did it in two separate games. His stat-line in the 3rd quarter vs. ULM went like this: Passing; 8-9 attempts (26, 22, 84, 15, 16, 11, 21, 12), 207 yards, 2 touchdowns…Rushing; 2 carries for 22 yards, 1 touchdown.

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Brock Purdy set a school record for most passing yards in a quarter when he threw for 207 yards in the third period vs. ULM. He was almost perfect in that frame, completing 8-of-9 passes and two touchdowns.

Season Records
8. Passing Yards:
3,982 in 2019. Former Record: 3,245, Seneca Wallace in 2002

Behind The Record
Heading into the 2019, only one player in school history (Seneca Wallace) had surpassed the 3,000-yard mark in passing when Wallace threw for 3,245 yards in a 14-game season in 2002. That total was 369 yards better than Bret Meyer, who threw for 2,876 yards in 2005. Not only did Purdy eclipse Wallace’s mark, he crushed it, owning the top spot by a 737-yard cushion. Purdy was the Big 12 leader and ranked fourth nationally in passing yards per game at 306.3 in 2019.

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Seneca Wallace was the first Cyclone to throw for over 3,000 yards passing during a season in 2002.

  1. 300-Yard Passing Games: 6 in 2019. Former Record: 3, five players, including Purdy in 2018

Behind The Record
When you pass for nearly 4,000 yards in a season, you are bound to have multiple 300-yard games, and that’s exactly what Purdy did in 2019 with six to shatter the former mark. Fun fact. An Iowa State quarterback has thrown for over 300 yards in a game 44 times in school history with Purdy doing it six times in one season. The first Cyclone to top the 300-yard mark was Tim Van Galder, who had 335 yards vs. Arizona in 1966.

10. Completions: 312 in 2019. Former Record: 254, Sam Richardson in 2014

Behind The Record
Once again, it was another obliteration of the record when Purdy completed 312 passes in 2019, breaking the former mark by 58. Purdy led the Big 12 and was sixth nationally in completions per game (24.0) in 2019.

11. Passing Attempts: 475 in 2019. Former Record: 451, Sam Richardson in 2014

12. Touchdown Passes: 27 in 2019. Former Record: 20, Todd Bandhauer in 1997

Behind The Record
Todd Bandhauer’s school record of 20 touchdown passes in 1997 lasted 22 years. A couple of players threatened it. Bret Meyer had 19 in 2005 and Sam Richardson recorded 18 in 2014. Purdy didn’t just threaten the record, he shattered it by tossing 27 touchdowns this past season. He actually equaled the former mark of 20 after nine games. Purdy divvied out his 27 touchdown throws to 10 different players.

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Todd Bandhauer’s 20 touchdown passes in 1997 was a school record until Brock Purdy recorded 27 in 2019.

13. Total Offense: 4,231 in 2019. Former Record: 3,682, Seneca Wallace in 2002

Behind The Record
Only four players in Iowa State history have recorded a 3,000-yard total offense season (Purdy, Seneca Wallace, Austen Arnaud, Sam Richardson) and Purdy is the only player to crack the 4,000-yard mark with his 4,231 yards of total offense in 2019. Purdy’s ability to escape from the pocket and use his legs adds another dimension of versatility. Purdy produced 249 net rushing yards in 2019, which enabled him to become the first player to achieve 4,000 yards of total offense in a season.

14. Offensive Plays: 568 in 2019. Former Record: 566, Seneca Wallace in 2002

15. Touchdowns Responsible: 35 in 2019. Former Record: 24, George Amundson in 1972

This record stood for nearly 50 years. George Amundson, an All-American and the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1972, was a one-man wrecking crew in his final season in Ames. Amundson, who was ISU’s first 1,000-yard rusher at running back in 1971, moved to quarterback in 1972. Amundson passed for 15 touchdowns and rushed for nine more during ISU’s Liberty Bowl season. Purdy accounted for 35 touchdowns (27 passing, 8 rushing) in 2019 to surpass Amundson. Purdy, Justin Fields (Ohio State), Jalen  Hurts (Oklahoma) and Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) were the only FBS players in 2019 with at least 27 passing touchdowns and eight rushing touchdowns. That’s elite company.

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All-American George Amundson passed for 15 touchdowns and ran for 9 more to set the record for most touchdowns responsible for in a season (24) in 1972, a record that stood until Purdy broke it this past year with 35.

  1. Completion Percentage: 66.4% in 2018. Former Record: 66.3%, Kyle Kempt in 2017


Behind The Re
cord
Purdy established this mark in his rookie season in 2018, eclipsing Kyle Kempt’s record set the year before. Purdy’s completion rate of 65.7 percent in 2019 ranks third all-time in school history.

17. Passing Efficiency: 169.91 in 2018. Former Record: 145.93, Kyle Kempt in 2017

Behind The Record
Another school mark Purdy set as a freshman in 2018. Again, he bested Kyle Kempt’s record established in the prior season. What is significant about Purdy’s incredible efficiency during his rookie campaign is that it ranked sixth nationally, was the 60th-best season clip in NCAA history and the best-ever by a true freshman in the history of college football. Purdy has the top-two season passing efficiency totals now after producing a 151.07 clip in 2019.

Career Records

18. 300-Yard Passing Games: 9 from 2018-19: Former Record: 5, Bret Meyer from 2004-07

19. Passing Efficiency: 157.0 from 2018-19: Former Record: 141.4, Kyle Kempt from 2017-18

20. Consecutive Games With a Touchdown Pass: 12 in 2019. Former Record: 10, Todd Bandhauer in 1997; David Archer in 1983

Behind The Record
Purdy threw a touchdown pass in the first 12 games of the 2019 season to establish a new mark of consecutive games with a passing touchdown. The record was first set in 1983 when David Archer had a skein of 10-straight games. Archer went onto a successful career in the NFL where he was the Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback during the 1985 and 1986 seasons. Since Purdy took over the reins at quarterback in the last 22 games, he has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 19 of them.

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David Archer held many of Iowa State’s season records, including most consecutive games with a touchdown pass, after his outstanding season in 1983.

  1. QB Wins vs. Conference Opponents: 11 from 2018-19. Shares Record With: 11, Bret Meyer from 2004-07

Behind The Record
This record is possibly Purdy’s most amazing, considering he has only suited up in a Cyclone jersey for two seasons. Bret Meyer recorded 11 wins over Big 12 opponents during his career from 2004-07. Since the Big 12 was established in 1996, only four Cyclone teams ended a season with a winning record in league play. Purdy led two of those teams the past two seasons (6-3, 5-4). Meyer also has the most wins as a starting QB with 21. Purdy currently has 14 victories.

Closing In

Purdy is on the verge of setting a number of career records next season. Here is a look where he stands and who he needs to beat.

Passing Yards: 9,499, Bret Meyer from 2004-07. Purdy: 6,232 from 2018-19

Touchdown Passes: 50, Bret Meyer from 2004-07. Purdy: 43 from 2018-19

Total Offense: 10,422, Bret Meyer from 2004-07. Purdy: 6,789 from 2018-19

Rushing Touchdowns By a QB: 17, Joel Lanning from 2014-17. Purdy: 13 from 2018-19

Touchdowns Responsible: 62, Bret Meyer from 2004-07. Purdy: 56 from 2018-19

Quarterback Wins: 21, Bret Meyer from 2004-07. Purdy: 14 from 2018-19

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Bret Meyer was Iowa State’s starting quarterback from 2004-07 and owns most of the Cyclones’ career passing records.

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The Matt Campbell Timeline

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AMES, Iowa – Three-straight bowl games. Three-straight winning seasons in conference play. Three-straight seasons appearing in the College Football Playoff rankings and national rankings.

To say that Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell has directed a Cyclone revival on the gridiron is a giant understatement.

To put in perspective the amazing turnaround at Iowa State, look at these facts.

Since the Big 12 was formed in 1996, only four Cyclone teams have finished a season with a winning record in conference play. Campbell and his Cyclones have done it three years in a row (2017-19).

Also, since 1959, only five Cyclone teams have finished third or better in the final league standings. Campbell has achieved this twice in back-to-back seasons (2018, 2019).

We could go on, but you get the point. Iowa State football is in a great place thanks to Campbell’s efforts.

As Campbell prepares for his fifth season at the helm, I thought we should take a trip down memory lane to document some memorable moments of his tenure. I am sure I am leaving some out, but here you go.

The Matt Campbell Era at Iowa State (2015-present)

November 2015- Matt Campbell is named the 33rd head coach in Iowa State history after leading Toledo to a 35-15 record from 2011-15.

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Matt Campbell was announced as the 33rd head coach in Iowa State football history on November 30, 2015.

February 2016- With only two months to assemble a staff and start a recruiting base, Matt Campbell secures a top-45 recruiting class in his first signing period at Iowa State. Campbell picks up future stars David Montgomery, Deshaunte Jones, JaQuan Bailey, D’Andre Payne, Enyi Uwazurike, Lawrence White, Chase Allen, Jamahl Johnson, Kene Nwangwu, Dylan Soehner and Steve Wirtel to set the tone for future recruiting success.

March 2016- A group of Iowa State players were credited with saving a woman’s life while on spring break. The story was picked up nationally and the players were lauded as heroes.

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Anthony Lazard, Jack Spreen and Josh Jahlas do a live interview for Fox & Friends after helping save a woman’s life while on spring break in 2016.

April 2016- Matt Campbell embraces the tradition of Cyclone football by inviting back Cyclone legends A.J. Klein, Seneca Wallace, Sage Rosenfels, J.J. Moses, Dennis Gibson, Matt Blair, Tom Randall and Keith Sims as honorary coaches for his first spring game.

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Matt Campbell talks strategy with former Cyclone and NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels at the 2016 Spring Game.

August 2016- Matt Campbell brings “Victory Day” to Ames. It was a huge hit, as Cyclone football’s annual event provides opportunities for children with disabilities to meet the team and score touchdowns at Jack Trice Stadium. The event started a precedent of outstanding community service provided by the Cyclone football program.

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Victory Day has become one of the team’s most rewarding events annually.

November 2016- Matt Campbell records his first Big 12 victory with a 31-24 come-from-behind win over Kansas in Lawrence. Down 24-16 late in the third quarter, senior walk-on Mitchell Harger sparks the Cyclone comeback with a touchdown. He finishes the game with eight carries for 58 yards.

November 2016- Following the Kansas victory, Campbell and crew overpower Texas Tech, 66-10, handing future NFL MVP and Super Bowl-winning QB Patrick Mahomes his worst loss as a collegian. ISU’s 66 points was the most-ever vs. a conference opponent and ISU’s 31 points scored in the second quarter broke the school record for most points in any quarter. Joel Lanning tied a school record with five rushing touchdowns.

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Joel Lanning races to one of his school-record-tying five touchdown rushes in Iowa State’s 66-10 win over Texas Tech in 2016.

November 2016 – True freshman David Montgomery earns his first start against Oklahoma and takes the reins at running back for the last four games, rushing for over 100 yards twice and showing Cyclone fans glimpses of future success.

December 2016- Senior cornerback Jomal Wiltz was named honorable mention All-Big 12 and the team’s defensive player of the year in his only season playing for Coach Campbell. His drastic improvement with Campbell helped him earn a NFL free-agent contract and eventually a starting spot with the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

December 2016- All-Big 12 wide receiver Allen Lazard holds a press conference to announce his intentions to return for his senior season: “Our football team made a lot of strides this past year. Coach Campbell has this program going in the right direction and the enthusiasm and excitement within the locker room is extremely high,” Lazard said.

January 2017- Mitchell Meyers receives a national award from Uplifting Athletes for his courageous comeback from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Meyers, who was diagnosed in 2015, played in all 12 games in 2016, inspiring his teammates along the way.

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Mitchell Meyers inspired his teammates in his courageous battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

January 2017- Prior to spring practice, Matt Campbell decided to move Joel Lanning, who spent his first four seasons at Iowa State at quarterback, to linebacker. Campbell predicted, “Joel Lanning will be one of the greatest stories in college football in 2017.”

September 2017- Campbell and his staff scrap their base defense and decide on a total makeover after the third game of the season. The team begins utilizing multiple fronts, including a 3-man front with five defensive backs. The decision set the table for Iowa State’s future success and defensive improvement for the next three seasons.

October 2017- Prior to a road trip at No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman, Campbell pegs fifth-year walk-on quarterback Kyle Kempt as his starter. He had only attempted two passes in his collegiate career prior to the start.

October 2017- In arguably the greatest win in school history, Iowa State defeats No. 3 Oklahoma, 38-31, in Norman to record its biggest win over a ranked team on the road. Kyle Kempt throws for 343 yards and three touchdowns, and Lanning puts on an “Iron Man” performance for the ages with 78 snaps (57 on defense, 13 on offense, 8 on special teams). He has eight tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, 35 rushing yards and 25 passing yards in the historic win.

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This leaping catch by Allen Lazard in the final moments of the Oklahoma game in 2017 will go down as one of the greatest plays in school history.

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Captains Allen Lazard and Joel Lanning celebrate after defeating No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman in 2017.

October 2017- Iowa State capped off a perfect October by defeating its second top-five team in four weeks with a 14-7 win over No. 4 TCU. A Marcel Spears interception in the final minute was the clincher, as the Cyclones appeared in the national rankings for the first time since 2005.

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Marcel Spears’ interception clinches the victory over No. 4 TCU in 2017. The Cyclones were also ranked that day, marking the first match-up of ranked teams in Jack Trice Stadium since 2002.

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Kyle Kempt and Trever Ryen soak it all in after the TCU victory.

October 2017- The first College Football Playoff poll of the season came out on Oct. 31, and for the first time in school history, Iowa State was ranked (No. 15).

November 2017- A 23-13 road victory over Baylor clinched ISU’s second winning conference record in Big 12 history (1996-present), as the Cyclones finish 5-4 in the league.

December 2017- Wide receiver Allen Lazard earns First Team All-Big 12 honors for the second time, becoming one of only three players in school history to earn first team All-Big 12 accolades multiple times. Lazard ends his career with school records in receptions (241) and receiving yards (3,360).

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Allen Lazard ended his career as the greatest wide receiver in Iowa State history.

December 2017- Matt Campbell is named Big 12 Coach of the Year, earning conference coach of the year honors for the second time in three seasons in two different conferences (MAC, Big 12). He is the first Cyclone skipper to be named Big 12 Coach of the Year since Dan McCarney in 2004.

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Matt Campbell won the first of his two Big 12 Coach of the Year awards following the 2017 season.

December 2017- Linebacker/Quarterback Joel Lanning proves to be one of the greatest stories in college football during the season, earning First Team All-America honors from the FWAA. He is also the runner-up for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player, and the Lombardi Trophy.

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Joel Lanning spent one season as a linebacker, earning First-Team All-America honors by the FWAA.

December 2017- Iowa State earns its first bowl berth since 2012 by facing nationally-ranked Memphis in the Liberty Bowl.

December 2017- Iowa State caps off its incredible season by defeating Memphis, 21-20 in the Liberty Bowl. The Cyclones end the season at 8-5, the most wins since 2000, and break a school record with three victories over ranked teams (Oklahoma, TCU, Memphis).

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Jack Spreen and Joel Lanning celebrate the victory over Memphis in the Liberty Bowl in 2017.

December 2017- Iowa State tied a NCAA record for fewest lost fumbles in a season with one, which occurred in the final moments of the Liberty Bowl.

December 2017- Allen Lazard wrapped up his incredible career with an outstanding performance in the Liberty Bowl. He catches an ISU bowl-record 10 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown to earn Offensive MVP accolades.

December 2017- Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock was named as a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s best assistant coach.

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Jon Heacock directed a Cyclone defense in 2017 that ranked second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (20.9) and third in the league in total defense (366.2).

February 2018- In the first season of the multiple National Signing Day periods, Iowa State makes a huge late addition to its class by signing Arizona’s Gatorade Player of the Year Brock Purdy.

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Brock Purdy announces his decision to attend Iowa State at a press conference in Arizona. It was a huge late-season pick-up for the Cyclones.

 

July 2018- After a devastating tornado rips through the town of Marshalltown, the Iowa State team makes the 45-minute trip to lend a hand in the town’s recovery process.

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The Cyclones lend a hand in the aftermath of a tornado that struck Marshalltown in the summer of 2018.

September 2018- Iowa State announces plans to build a Sports Performance Center, a $90 million project for a 110,000-square foot facility to include academic and student services center, dining facilities, a sports nutrition center, plus nearly 20,000-square feet of additional locker room, team lounges and gathering spaces for football.

September 2018- Matt Campbell and his staff honor Celia Barquin Arozamena, ISU’s Big 12 Champion golfer who was tragically slain while playing golf, vs. Akron. The team paid tribute with a moment of silence prior to kickoff and wore “CBA” decals on their helmets for the rest of the season.

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The entire Iowa State community rallied together to honor Cyclone golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena.

October 2018- Heading into a road trip at No. 25 Oklahoma State, Iowa State was 1-3. Matt Campbell made the decision to give true freshman QB Brock Purdy his opportunity. Purdy, who had only played two snaps in his career, posted one of the greatest games by an ISU signal-caller, racking up 402 yards of total offense in ISU’s 48-42 victory.

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Brock Purdy celebrates with teammates after defeating No. 25 Oklahoma State in Stillwater in 2018.

October 2018- Iowa State defeats its third top-10 team in two seasons with a 30-14 win over No. 6 West Virginia. Iowa State outgained the Mountaineers, 498-152, to earn National Team of the Week honors by the FWAA.

November 2018- Iowa State played host to Baylor ranked in the top-25 for the second straight season. The 28-14 victory was ISU’s fifth-straight win over a Big 12 opponent, tying the school record for longest winning streak vs. conference foes.

November 2018- Iowa State won its final conference game of the season over Kansas State in dramatic fashion. Down by 17 points in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones roared back for a 42-38 win, tying the school record for biggest fourth quarter comeback in school history. It also gave the Cyclones their sixth conference victory, the most-ever by a Cyclone team in the history of the program.

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Mike Rose’s fumble recovery for a touchdown was a key play in Iowa State’s incredible fourth quarter comeback win over Kansas State.

December 2018- Wide receiver Hakeem Butler posted one of the greatest seasons by a wideout in school history and earned Second Team All-America honors by The Athletic. Butler broke the school record for receiving yards in a season (1,318) and ranked third in the nation in yards per reception (22.0).

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Hakeem Butler was a human highlight reel in 2018, producing the greatest individual season by a Cyclone wide receiver in school history.

December 2018- Running back David Montgomery earned All-America honors by PFF, was a First Team All-Big 12 selection and rushed for over 1,000 yards for the second-straight season. His toughness and elusive running style helped him lead the nation in forced missed tackles.

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Two-time All-American running back David Montgomery rushed for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and proved to be one of the toughest runners in the nation in his incredible Cyclone career.

December 2018- A pair of true freshmen earn Freshman All-America honors in quarterback Brock Purdy and linebacker Mike Rose. Purdy posted the best passing efficiency total (169.9) by a true freshman in NCAA history. Rose’s 75 tackles was third among “Power 5” rookies.

December 2018- Matt Campbell is the Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year, winning or sharing the honor for the second-straight season. The Cyclones’ six wins at Jack Trice Stadium tied the school record and their 6-3 conference mark tied for third in the Big 12, the best conference finish in 40 years.

December 2018- Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell agreed to a contract extension through 2024, furthering his commitment to Iowa State.

December 2018- Matt Campbell continued his recruiting success by hauling in a top-40 recruiting class featuring a pair of four-star running backs in Breece Hall and Jirehl Brock.

December 2018- Iowa State earns its second-straight bowl bid with an appearance in the Alamo Bowl vs. nationally-ranked Washington State. In regards to bowl pecking order, it’s the most prestigious bowl game in school history. The Cyclones fall in the final moments to the Cougars, but Hakeem Butler sets an ISU Bowl-record 192 yards receiving.

Alamo Bowl

Iowa State fans came in droves to San Antonio to watch the Cyclones face nationally-ranked Washington State in the Alamo Bowl. Hakeem Butler recorded a career-high 192 receiving yards in the tight contest.

December 2018- Iowa State broke the school record for sacks in a season with 33 and JaQuan Bailey ended the season with 18.5 career sacks to tie the school record.

December 2018- Iowa State led the Big 12 in scoring defense for the first time in school history, giving up only 22.9 points per game vs. the high-octane Big 12 offenses.

April 2019- Cyclone All-Americans David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler are selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, of the 2019 NFL Draft, just the fifth time since 1991 ISU had multiple picks in the NFL Draft.

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David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler both decided to enter the 2019 NFL Draft with one year of eligibility remaining. Their decision paid off, as both were selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.

June 2019- David Montgomery is the first Iowa State student-athlete to win the Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year Award. The award is given annually to a student-athlete who displays an extraordinary degree of sportsmanship and/or community service within the conference.

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David Montgomery was just as successful off the field.

August 2019- Iowa State is ranked in the preseason AP Top-25 for the first time since 1978.

August 2019- Iowa State defeated UNI, 29-26 in triple overtime to set a school record for most consecutive wins at Jack Trice Stadium with seven.

September 2019- Iowa State hosted ESPN College Gameday for the first time in school history before its matchup with intrastate rival Iowa.

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For the first time in school history, Iowa State hosted ESPN College Gameday prior to its game vs. Iowa in 2019.

September 2019- Iowa State set a slew of school records in its 72-20 win over ULM. Its 72 points was the third-most in school history and the most since 1906. ISU’s 714 yards of total offense broke the school record. ISU also set a school record with 45 points in the second half and Brock Purdy set the school record for total offense (510) and touchdowns responsible for (6).

October 2019- Iowa State defeats TCU, 49-24, to record its fifth-straight win over a league team at home, tying a school record.

October 2019- Iowa State defeats Texas Tech, 34-24, to record its second-straight win on the road over a league opponent. It marks the first time since 1989 that Iowa State won back-to-back road games vs. conference opponents in consecutive weeks. Rookie Breece Hall had 256 yards from scrimmage to rank in ISU’s top-10.

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True freshman Breece Hall’s 256 yards from scrimmage vs. Texas Tech is a top-10 single-game effort in school history.

November 2019- Iowa State appears in the College Football Rankings for the first time during the season, marking the third-straight season where ISU was ranked in the CFP. Iowa State and Oklahoma are the only two schools in the Big 12 to be ranked in the CFP in each of the last three seasons.

November 2019- Iowa State stages a come-from-behind victory over No. 22 Texas (23-21), as Connor Assalley drills a 36-yard field goal as time expired to give ISU its first “walk-off” regulation victory since 1983.

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Connor Assalley clinches Iowa State’s sixth win over a top-25 team in the last three seasons with a last-second field goal over Texas.

November 2019- In the win over Texas, Matt Campbell completes the sweep of defeating every league opponent at least once during his tenure. It’s the first time in the history of Iowa State football where a head coach defeated every other team in the conference during their tenure.

November 2019- The win over Texas was ISU’s sixth vs. a ranked opponent in the last three seasons, tying for 13th nationally. Matt Campbell has six of ISU’s 23 all-time wins over ranked opponents.

November 2019- Iowa State ties for third in the Big 12 for the second-straight season and records its third-straight year with a winning conference record (5-4). Since the Big 12 was formed in 1996, ISU has only had four winning league records. Three have occurred in the last three seasons (2017-19).

November 2019- Iowa State had a school-record three sellouts and shattered the season school-record attendance mark by averaging 59,794 fans per game in Jack Trice Stadium in 2019.

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Iowa State averaged a school-record 59,794 fans per game in Jack Trice Stadium in 2019, ranking 21st nationally.

December 2019- Tight end Charlie Kolar earns Second Team All-America honors by the FWAA and First Team Academic All-America accolades by CoSIDA, becoming the first Cyclone gridder to be an All-American and Academic All-American.

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Charlie Kolar was an All-American on the field and in the classroom in 2019, a first in Cyclone history.

December 2019- Brock Purdy is the second Iowa State signal-caller to earn first or second team All-Big 12 honors in the Big 12 era (1996-present) and the first Cyclone to lead the Big 12 in passing yardage (306.3), ranking fourth nationally.

December 2019- Breece Hall, as just a true freshman, was a Freshman All-American and a Second Team All-Big 12 selection after tallying 1,149 all-purpose yards.

December 2019- Iowa State earns its third-straight bowl bid by earning a spot in the Camping World Bowl to play nationally-ranked Notre Dame.

December 2019- Matt Campbell’s success on the recruiting trail continues, as the Cyclones secure one of their best recruiting classes in school history. A pair of four-star quarterbacks in Aidan Bouman and Hunter Dekkers headline the class.

December 2019- Iowa State finishes the season with the best offense in school history, breaking records for total offense (444.3), touchdowns (53), points (418), touchdown passes (29) and first downs (298).

December 2019- QB Brock Purdy set or tied 18 school records during his record-setting sophomore campaign, including season records for passing yards (306.3), total offense (325.5), passing touchdowns (27), completions (312) and 300-yard passing games (6). He ranked fifth nationally in total offense.

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Brock Purdy ranked as one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football during the 2019 campaign.

December 2019- Semester grades from the fall semester were tabulated and Iowa State set a school record with a cumulative 2.99 overall team GPA, proving success on the field and in the classroom.

December 2019- Iowa State ends the season with its third-straight winning season at 7-6. ISU’s 23 wins from 2017-19 is the second-best three-year winning stretch in school history.

December 2019- Matt Campbell will enter his fifth season with an 18-18 overall mark vs. conference opponents, the best winning percentage by a Cyclone coach vs. league foes in school history.

More to come….

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Senior O-Linemen Key To ISU Success

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Senior offensive lineman Julian Good-Jones had his life change dramatically on Nov. 22, 2015.

Good-Jones, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was wrapping up his redshirt season at Iowa State when news spread there was going to be a coaching change.

Many thoughts were going through his mind. Was it in his best interest to look for another school? Or should he stick it out and give the next coach a chance?

Cyclone fans are happy he chose the latter, because Good-Jones has worked his way into an All-Big 12 lineman and four-year starter.

Good-Jones has witnessed first-hand the turnaround of Cyclone football, and this weekend he will be among 20 seniors playing in their final game in MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium.

“I’m a pretty emotional guy, not a lot of people know that about me,” Good-Jones said about playing in his last home game. “I’m a crier and I choke up a lot, so hopefully I don’t do that. Hopefully it doesn’t get in the way of the game, but it’ll be emotional for sure.”

Good-Jones gave head coach Matt Campbell a chance and he developed into a stable force on the Cyclone offensive front the past four seasons. Good-Jones has played three different positions – right tackle, center, left tackle – in his career and his versatility hasn’t gone unnoticed by Campbell.

“What I’ve always seen about Julian is this amazing spirit who’s got this unique ability to get along with everybody in our program,” Campbell said. “He’s got a big heart and has always done what is best for the team. It’s never been what is best for him. He’s playing left tackle for us and he’s probably a natural center or left guard, but he has played incredible football for this team this year. He’s physically playing his best.”

The two-time All-Big 12 honoree has one of the longest active starting streaks among FBS players at 47 (12th nationally), and with starts in the last two games, he will set the school record for most starts in a career with 49.

Good-Jones never believed this would have been possible when he entered school in the fall of 2015.

“Everyone has goals, but if you would have told me this would happen when I first started, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Good-Jones said. “This [Iowa State] is the place where I learned to be a man, grow up and just have experiences, friendships and lessons that will last a lifetime.”

The efforts of Good-Jones and three other senior offensive line starters – Bryce Meeker, Josh Knipfel and Collin Olson – have facilitated the resurgence of the Cyclone offense in 2019. The Cyclones rank in the top-25 nationally in yards per play (12th, 6.8), passing offense (8th, 326.3), total offense (14th, 477.9) and scoring (24th, 35.1).

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Iowa State’s four seniors on the offensive line- Julian Good-Jones, Bryce Meeker, Josh Knipfel and Collin Olson- have helped the Cyclones produce record-setting numbers on offense in 2019. 

All of those numbers are on pace to set Iowa State team records, and you can thank the men in the trenches for doing the dirty work.

Meeker, who also hails from Cedar Rapids, can also relate to Good-Jones’ journey. He’s also in his fifth year as a Cyclone and been a starter for four seasons.

Meeker has elevated his game in his time in Ames. Campbell has routinely noted the importance of Meeker and Good-Jones as four-year starters.

“I think that the two stories that don’t get talked about enough is what Bryce and Julian have really done for this team,” Campbell said. “They’re two kids that went through a coaching change, two kids that have grown immensely from who they are as human beings on the field and off the field to who they are today. They’re playing their best in every way, shape and form today because they are getting ready to, in the next month, leave our football program.”

Meeker noticed a difference when Campbell took over in 2016.

“Everybody takes a different outlook on everything,” Meeker said. “Coach Campbell has brought a certain amount of confidence and instilled it into a lot of people. That is how we carry ourselves every day. That was the biggest change. Everybody has confidence day-in and day-out.”

Besides an increase of confidence, Good-Jones also noticed something else changed after his first season. Players all of a sudden didn’t want to leave the Bergstrom Football Complex when practice ended.

“I would say that the culture has been a complete overhaul and the biggest difference is that when I first got here people couldn’t wait to leave as soon as we were done with practice,” Good-Jones said. “Now, everybody wants to stay after practice to hang out, watch film and just get a little extra work in.”

Knipfel was added to the mix in 2017 after spending a year at Iowa Western Community College. It didn’t take the Hampton, Iowa native long to find a spot in the lineup.

The guard has started 36 consecutive games, was named honorable mention All-Big 12 in 2018 and voted a co-captain for his final season as a Cyclone.

Playing at Jack Trice Stadium is different for Knipfel. The 6-6, 305-pounder grew up running around the hillsides cheering on the Cyclones. He always dreamed of this moment and now he lives it.

“This has been a dream come true,” Knipfel said. “Growing up in a small town not a lot of guys get a chance to play at the highest level. Being that kid that used to watch the guys play on Saturdays, and now being the guy that plays, is really special. Hopefully I’m a role model and someone that those kids up on the hillside want to be someday.”

Olson didn’t receive the spotlight like the others coming out of high school. He helped Ankeny High School win a state title in 2012, but the Division I offers didn’t come. He decided to pursue his dreams, however, and decided to walk-on at Iowa State.

After spending three years on defense, Olson switched to the offensive line and has solidified his spot with 21-straight starts. He was recently named a nominee for the Burlsworth Trophy, given annually to the nation’s best football player who began his career as a walk-on.

It was an amazing transition for Olson, but he admits he had a little help from his friends.

“Having guys like Julian, Bryce and Josh has helped me tremendously,” Olson said. “Just being able to learn from them. If I didn’t have those guys, I don’t know if I would have made it. I was able look at the way they go to work and just follow their role. I’m able to ask them questions and I am great friends with all of them, so I can talk to them about anything. They’ve been a tremendous support in my life, all three of them.”

The camaraderie the four have nurtured aiming for a common goal is perhaps their greatest achievement.

“It’s been awesome,” Meeker said. “I have known Julian for a long time. Collin Olson is one of my roommates. Being so close has given us confidence as a unit. As we all have become seniors, it has brought us unity.”

And unity has brought success.

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Cyclones To Sport State Flags On Helmets

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AMES, Iowa – Iowa State Director of Football Operations Greg “Skip” Brabenec was watching a Nebraska football game last season and he noticed something different adorned on the Husker helmets.

Each player had three numerical digits on their helmets. Brabenec quickly figured out what the numbers stood for their local area code and he thought it was a brilliant idea.

Players represent a team, but they also have pride where they come from.

Brabenec met with Head Coach Matt Campbell and the decision was made to implement this same concept for the Cyclones, but they wanted to do it in a different approach.

The two brainstormed, tossed around a couple of ideas, and finally came up with the perfect solution.

What about having a state flag sticker on the back of each player’s helmet during the 2019 season?

Brabenec couldn’t wait to tell the team.

“They were all excited,” Brabenec said. “We are a family here at Iowa State, but our kids are also close to their families back home. We just thought it was a great way for the players to show off where they grew up.”

Campbell has always emphasized this is a player-driven program. It’s another way to prove it.

“I think this offseason as a team and staff we took a dive into, ‘who are we outside of football?’” Campbell said. “One of those things that came up during those discussions is young people sharing their story. We wanted to find ways for our guys to represent and take great pride on where they come from. It’s going to be fun to see those stickers on gameday.”

The Cyclone roster is filled with players from 18 different states. When you watch an Iowa State game this season, you will see flags from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

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A total of 43 current Cyclones hail from the state of Iowa.

Senior All-Big 12 linebacker Marcel Spears is from Olathe, Kan. He’s proud of his roots and loved the idea.

“We are Iowa State. We are a team,” Spears said. “However, being able to put your home state on the helmet and have your people back home understand that you are repping the state well means a lot.”

Besides state flags, Cyclone fans will also notice flags from six other nations on the back of the helmets.

Matt Leo and Corey Dunn are from Australia, but Campbell allowed players to choose flags from nations where their ancestors were originally from.

For example, Arnold Azunna, Kene Nwangwu and Enyi Uwazurike have the Nigerian flag on their helmets. You will see a Liberian flag on the helmets for Eddie Ogamba and Answer Gaye. Joe Rivera’s family heritage is linked to Puerto Rico and Kym-Mani King is from Jamaica. Senior All-Big 12 defensive lineman Ray Lima will represent Somoa.

Nwangwu, who was raised in Texas, wanted to honor his family’s Nigerian heritage. It was an easy decision for the junior running back/kickoff returner to make.

“I think it is really cool to get the opportunity to express our heritage,” Nwangwu said. “I take great pride in having a Nigerian heritage. My parents came from there and I take a lot of pride in that.”

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Doubles Duo Since Day One

Maty Cancini (left) and Annabella Bonadonna (right) have been teaming up since their childhood in Venezuela.

By Andy Stubblefield, ISU Athletics Communications

As Annabella Bonadonna stands close to the net, she lets a ball from her opponent get past her. Not because she can’t reach it, but because she knows her teammate has her back. Maty Cancini rockets home a doubles point that lands just inside the line and she shares an emphatic high five and a smile with her partner.

How did Bonadonna know Cancini would be there? It’s just always been that way.

Both Cyclones hail from the northern portion of Venezuela, not far from the coast of the Caribbean Sea, and have played tennis together since they were 10 years old. Despite their hometowns residing about two hours apart, the duo formed an inseparable bond.

Cancini and Bonadonna linked up for the first time at the South American, a tournament featuring three boys and three girls from ten countries on the continent.

“We were representing our country and they put us to play together,” Cancini said. “After that tournament, we liked it so much we started playing together all the time.”

For years, the two wreaked havoc on doubles duos across the country, often playing against pairs above their age division just to play competition on the same level as they were.

“We were playing against a pair that was really good and much older than us and they thought they would beat us super easy,” Cancini said. “We won the first set, but lost the second set. We went to a third set and we ended up winning.”

“Their coach got so upset because he couldn’t believe it that he walked back from the courts to the hotel. It was dark and Venezuela can be pretty dangerous, but he just couldn’t believe it.”

That duo was the first seed in the tournament and hailed from the same Caracas tennis club Bonadonna played at growing up, The Federation.

“He was also my coach because we were from the same academy, so he shouldn’t have gotten that mad, but he did,” Bonadonna said.

When tournaments were played near Valencia, Cancini’s hometown, Bonadonna would spend the night with the Cancini family. When tournaments were played near Caracas, the Bonadonna family would return the favor.

The power of sports brought two families, from two different cities, together.

“After tournaments we would vacation together at the beach, and our moms became very good friends,” Cancini said. “[Bonadonna] became very close with my brother, as well.”

“We are all one family,” Bonadonna added.

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Being a year older than Cancini, Bonadonna was the first to make the 2,692 mile move from Venezuela to Ames to play tennis at Iowa State. Not only was she going to have to play with a new doubles partner, an entire new set of challenges awaited her.

On top of all the commitments of adjusting to life as a student-athlete, Bonadonna had to overcome a language barrier and adjust to a new culture.

“For that first year, I was kind of lost,” Bonadonna said. “One of the biggest challenges for me was the culture. In Latin-America you are super loud, you’re more outgoing. But here, everyone is more quiet and reserved.”

A year later, when Cancini committed to Iowa State, Bonadonna was ecstatic that she was going to be reunited with her best friend. Coming to America, Cancini also struggled adapting to a new culture.

“If you’re at the library, sometimes you don’t realize that you’re talking loud,” Cancini said. “You don’t want to be rude, but at the same time, I didn’t know that I was doing it. That part was hard.”

Unlike Bonadonna, Cancini had someone to lean on and the strength of their relationship only deepened during their time in Ames.

“[Bonadonna] was basically like my guide here,” Cancini said. “I would ask Bella for everything. She could tell me what to do, where to go. Anything could happen and I know she’s was going to be there for me.”

“She’s my family here,” Bonadonna said. “She’s the one person that I can be closer to because my family is back home. She makes me feel safe and home.”

Ames has always been a safe haven for the two. The community welcomed the pair with open arms and made the adjustment to life away from home all the easier.

“I always felt really welcome here in Iowa,” Cancini said. “Sometimes when you go to different states, if they see you’re international they try to make it harder. I felt like everyone here always tried to help me and that was really cool. I’m very happy that I came to Iowa State.”

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On the tennis courts, the South American duo is working to right the ship that is the Iowa State tennis program, and the two are certainly making an impact.

“I don’t think we could have done many of the things we’ve done this year without their leadership,” head coach Boomer Saia said. “They do a good job of leading by example, especially when we’re out there competing.”

This is Cancini and Bonadonna’s third season at Iowa State together, but it is the first time the two are doubles partners while wearing the Cardinal and Gold. The move was obvious for Saia, a first-year head coach for the Cyclones.

“They both have natural abilities in doubles,” Saia said. “They played together growing up so they know instinctively the way they move together on the court. They are comfortable with one another and they compliment each other very well.”

The move quickly paid off for the Cyclones as the duo raced out to a 16-4 doubles record to begin their season. The hot start included a streak where the pair won five straight matches.

Cancini and Bonadonna have lead the charge to change the culture of the Cyclone tennis program with their individual play, as well.

Bonadonna currently has a 156-84 career record for the Cyclones and sits in second on Iowa State’s overall career wins list. Not only is the senior closing in on the record, she has the fewest losses of anyone in the top 15. Kathy Reising sits atop the list, just two wins ahead of Bonadonna.

Cancini made Iowa State tennis history after she advanced to the quarterfinals of ITA Regionals in October, the farthest a Cyclone has ever made it in the tournament. The junior’s run included a victory over then-ranked No. 73 Marina Guinart of Oklahoma State in the round of 32.

The effort earned Cancini the highest ranking in school history, claiming the No. 74 spot in the final fall ITA Rankings.

Both Venezuelans have cemented themselves in Cyclone Tennis history, but hope to be remembered for much more than that.

“I hope be a role model for the team,” Cancini said. “Show them how to fight when it might not be easy or when you face some adversity. You have to keep fighting when things aren’t going well, and that’s how you begin to change the culture.”

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ISU Graduate John Akers Now An USBWA Hall-of-Famer

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John Akers has always felt like his life in sports journalism resembled Forrest Gump.

Wherever he goes, or wherever life has taken him, he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Sure, luck has played a part in Akers’ career. However, the Dows, Iowa native and Iowa State University graduate didn’t receive his latest honor as an United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Hall-of-Famer on pure fortune.

He earned the highest honor in his profession through 40 years of hard work, talent and persistence.

Now in his 18th year as the publisher/editor of Basketball Times, Akers will be at the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis watching the sport he loves and accepting the ultimate award given to him by his peers.

“I went through the roof when I found out,” Akers said. “It is a tremendous honor. I don’t know how to describe it, but I am very excited.”

Akers always loved sports. Growing up in Dows as a youngster, Akers would routinely write colleges to request their latest media guides. He fell in love with the bios and statistics of the athletes, memorizing their accolades.

“Somewhere along the line I figured out if you wrote to sports information directors or professional franchises to their PR department, they would send me their leftover media guides,” Akers remembered. “I don’t know how I found their addresses, but I did.”

This fascination continued when he arrived at Iowa State in 1977 after transferring from Buena Vista College. He saw an article that the Cyclones just hired a new sports publicity director named Tom Starr.

He contacted Starr and asked him if he needed any student help in the Iowa State Sports Information Department. SID shops were smaller back then, and Starr put him to work.

Akers dove in to his new volunteer job, writing stories on Cyclone athletes for their local newspapers, providing the PA for JV hoops games and rubbing elbows with the local media.

“I saw this story about Tom Starr being hired at Iowa State and I thought, ‘Man, that would be a pretty cool thing.’” Akers said. “I went over and asked if they used any student interns. That exposed me to the world of sports writers and it allowed me to figure out who was who amongst sports writers. I was getting to know the Don Doxies and the Rick Browns, and I was figuring out who was who in Iowa sports journalism. That was extremely helpful and I really got hooked. That’s kind of how it all got started.”

His networking helped him earn a part-time job with the Ames Tribune, where he eventually was hired full-time after graduating from Iowa State in 1979.

“I was taking a journalism 201 course and my first instructor was a woman named Margaret Epperheimer,” Akers recollected. “She knew I was working in the SID office and she told me her husband, John, was the managing editor of the Ames Tribune and they were looking for Friday night help all the time. Gary Richards, who was the sports editor at the time, hired me to do Friday night stuff and I guess I did ok because they started giving me some bigger assignments and left enough of an impression that they eventually hired me.”

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John Akers watching the action at an Iowa State basketball game in Hilton Coliseum in the early 1980s.

It was a transitional period in Iowa State athletics. Legendary football coach Earle Bruce had just left for Ohio State and was replaced by Donnie Duncan. Lynn Nance was still patrolling the sideline in Hilton Coliseum, but his tenure was about to end.

Little did Akers know that things were about to change for Cyclone men’s basketball. The college basketball world was turned upside down when Johnny Orr, who coached Michigan to the national championship game in 1976, left his comfortable job with the Wolverines to take over a struggling Cyclone program.

Akers had a front row seat in those early Orr years. The product on the court still wasn’t great, but Orr made it fun, and he knew the tide was turning.

“There was just so much buzz and energy about it even though they were still kind of bad for those first few years,” Akers said. “Everyone was willing to forgive it because it was Johnny and he was entertaining.  Everybody could see that there was a future there. We would attend the Cyclone meetings/outings every Tuesday at the Best Western, which was a nice hotel in town at the time. We found out what Johnny said was funny in the way he delivered it, but it didn’t always translate to print all that well. You have this hilarious guy, but it was a challenge to convey the humor in print. Some of the stuff he would say, I was thinking about this the other day, you probably couldn’t use today.”

The colorful Orr was always the life of the party. Some of Akers’ favorite memories in the profession were covering the Hall-of-Fame coach, where there was never a dull moment.

“There was a preseason media day and Johnny was asked about Ron Falenschek, who was a big center for the Cyclones,” Akers said. “One reporter asked Johnny where Ron’s weight was at, and Johnny said, ‘Well, it’s in his ass.’”

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A John Akers story from the 1982 Big Eight men’s basketball media day, courtesy of the Ames Tribune.  

Akers also helped Orr land one the nation’s top recruits.

“I remember one time they were going after a kid named John Culbertson out of Chicago,” Akers said. “I happened to call Culbertson to see how the recruiting process was going. He said he was going to Iowa State. I said, ‘Oh, this is news,’ so I called Johnny, and it was news to Johnny, too. Johnny said, ‘He said that? Put it in the paper! Put in the paper, man!’”

Some of Akers’ favorite Cyclone athletes he covered were Andrew Parker, Alex Giffords, Jeff Hornacek and Barry Stevens.

Hornacek was a Cinderella story in the making, and Akers had a hunch he was special right away.

“Hornacek came in and he made quite an impression on all of us,” Akers remembered. “The Des Moines Register rotated writers and I remember for about four games straight the different writers discovered Hornacek. His talent was noticeable to all of us covering him on a daily basis.”

On one occasion, Akers was in the Cyclone dressing room prior to the game. On each of the players’ lockers, there was an inspirational note from the coaching staff placed for positive reinforcement.

He noticed a difference in the players’ inspirational messages.

“All the players had little notes on their lockers and Hornacek’s note was very detailed with all these different things to watch for in the game,” Akers said. “I then read Barry’s note and all it said was, ‘go for it.’ It was perfect for both of those guys, not to say Barry wasn’t cerebral at all. Barry was one of my all-time favorites, but he was a guy who played on emotion.”

Akers loved watching Stevens play. Stevens was a smooth-shooting gazelle on the court who could out-gun and out-run anybody.

He thinks back on a critical game in ISU history when the Cyclones defeated Iowa, 76-72 in double overtime during the 1983-84 season.

It was right on the cusp of “Hilton Magic.” The sound was deafening.

“The decibel level was so loud it almost hurt,” Akers said. “I remember Barry fouled out of that game and I remember his emotion. It wasn’t out of protest or whatever, but he when got his fifth foul he started hopping. He bounced to this incredible height as he hopped in frustration and we had a photo of him where he was so far off the ground. We were going to run the photo and one of our publishers didn’t want us to because he thought it was in bad taste like we were showing up this player or something. We had two publishers and one publisher talked the other one into allowing us to run it.”

Covering those early Orr teams was special. The program was gaining momentum and Akers was witnessing history. However, Akers decided to make a move professionally after five years with the Ames Tribune, so he headed out west to join the sports staff at the San Jose Mercury News, a job he held from 1984-2000.

Iowa State finally got over the hump and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 41 years during the 1984-85 season. Akers wasn’t around to see it, but he wrote Orr a letter to wish him congratulations.

In typical Orr fashion, Akers received a note back from the Hall of Fame coach.

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John,

Thanks for your note. You would love the games now. The Coliseum is sold out and we are no longer the underdogs. We are expected to win most of the time. We did have a fun year and next year promises more of the same. How about the NCAA? We miss you.

Sincerely,

Johnny

It was tough for Akers to leave his roots in Iowa, but it was also great time to be in the Bay Area as a college hoops writer. Akers covered Jason Kidd at California, Steve Nash at Santa Clara and witnessed the rise of Stanford basketball.

Another case of being in the right place at the right time.

“The Bay Area was going through a heyday,” said Akers. “I think it was around 1992 when Steve Nash arrives. I covered Nash and then Jason Kidd arrives at Cal. I covered them and then I took on the Stanford beat and they started to become one of the nation’s best teams. I got to ride that wave.”

In 2000, Akers’ wife, Ann, got a job with the National Scholastic Press Association in Minneapolis, as the couple moved closer to family in the Midwest.

Akers took a job with the Associated Press and was becoming dissatisfied with the work.

Once again, Forrest Gump came galloping to the rescue.

Ann’s workplace was hosting a convention and one of the guest speakers was legendary sportswriter Bob Ryan. The company needed a mug shot of Ryan, and Akers picked up the phone and called Basketball Times to find one.

He soon learned the organization was without an editor. Basketball Times founder and editor, Larry Donald, started the publication in 1980, making it a hoops junkie bible.

Donald died of an apparent heart attack in November 2000 at the age of 55, leaving his widow, Nanci, in charge of the operation.

Akers was intrigued and excited about another opportunity to dive into the world of basketball, offering his assistance to become the managing editor and publisher of the proud basketball publication, a job he still has today.

Relocating to Charlotte, N.C., Akers travels all around the country writing about hoops. Ryan, Dick “Hoops” Weiss, Wendy Parker and Dick Vitale are contributors for the publication and life is good.

He has cherished every moment working with the best basketball writers in the country and forging relationships with the giants in the coaching profession.

“It’s been great getting to know those guys and work with them,” Akers said. “I’ve been doing this now for eighteen years at Basketball Times and those guys have been doing it longer. I’ve been able to develop some really good friendships with a lot of these legends in basketball.”

It’s humbling for Akers to be considered for the USBWA Hall of Fame. As a former president of the USBWA, Akers instituted the organization’s Rising Star award, which recognizes excellence in a member who is under the age of 30.

This year’s USBWA Hall of Fame class includes Dan Wetzel, Bill Rhoden and Jack McCallum, all luminaries in sports writing. Akers is thrilled to be in the same company.

“When you see the guys that are also being inducted this year, it’s like, wow, I feel like I’m the Harold Baines of the crowd,” Akers joked.

Despite his status in the profession, you can’t take the Cyclone out of him. He still follows Iowa State and tries to watch as many games as he can.

I was the men’s basketball contact for the Iowa State Athletics Communications department from 2000-13. When Fred Hoiberg was hired as the leader of the Cyclone program in 2010, Akers played a huge role in getting The Mayor on the cover of the magazine and wrote a fantastic piece on him.

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Iowa State legend Fred Hoiberg graces the cover of Basketball Times in 2010. 

I found out later he was just giving props to a prodigy he coached as a grade-schooler.

“When I was at the Ames Tribune I coached Fred Hoiberg as a fifth-grader in flag football,” Akers said. “We had Hoiberg at wide receiver. That’s how smart we were.”

Congrats, John. Cyclone Nation is proud of you. That’s all I have to say about that.

 

 

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Shayok Firing On All Cylinders

Anyone associated with the Iowa State men’s basketball program, or anyone that has spent time at the Sukup Basketball Complex for that matter, can tell you about the incredible amount of work Marial Shayok put in during his redshirt season.

Nothing has changed as Shayok continues the grind during his senior season. Despite playing 32.5 minutes per game for the 24th-ranked Cyclones, you are virtually assured to find Shayok hoisting up shots in the morning, right before and immediately after practice each day.

The Cyclones and head coach Steve Prohm had an idea of what to expect from Shayok when he arrived after transferring from Virginia, but the Ottawa, Ontario native has surpassed what anyone could expect.

“You don’t know a guy’s work ethic until they actually get here, but his work ethic is off the charts,” Prohm said. “He’s in (the gym) religiously. I’d put him up there with the Matt Thomas, Naz Long, (Georges) Niang. Guys that are in here and have just an unbelievable desire to get better.

Shot after shot after shot, Shayok works on nearly every possible situation that could occur.

And that diligence to his craft has paid off.

He’s leading the Big 12 in scoring with 19.8 points, while shooting 50.9 percent on field goals, 40 percent behind the arc and 86.1 percent on free throws. He’s leading the Cyclones back toward the top of the Big 12 after a down 2017-18, which saw them miss the postseason for the first time in seven seasons.

Big 12 Leading Scorers

 

 

Nearly two-thirds through the regular season, Shayok has already posted the best point total and rebound total in his career and is on pace to post a season that historically has rarely been matched.

By The Numbers
50-40-85
Since 2009-10, just seven players (nine times) have averaged at least 19 points while shooting at the levels of 50-40-85 like Shayok is currently doing. Only three of those players came from nation’s top-6 conferences, including only Buddy Hield from the Big 12 Conference during his player of the year season.

Fred Hoiberg averaged 20.2 points and shot 53.5 percent from the field, 45 percent behind the arc and 86.4 percent at the line as a junior.

In ISU history, only Fred Hoiberg reached these marks, doing so during his junior season in 1993-94, when the Cyclones were a part of the Big Eight Conference.

Players with 19 ppg at 50-40-85 (since 2009-10)
Doug McDermott (Creighton), 2012-13 & 2013-14
Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), 2015-16
Mike Daum (SDSU), 2016-17
Zeek Woodley (Northwestern State), 2015-16 &2016-17
Shane Gibson (Sacred Heart), 2011-12
Luke Babbitt (Nevada), 2009-10
Jerian Grant (Notre Dame), 2013-14

*Shayok and Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman are the only players nationally at the marks this season. Grant (12 games) and Woodley (14 games in 2016-17) played in less than 50 percent of their team’s games.

Most Points By A Cyclone, First 19 Games (Since 2010-11)
1. Marial Shayok (2018-19), 376
2. Georges Niang (2015-16), 366

Only four Big 12 players have scored more points in the season’s first 19 games (since 2010-11) than Shayok: Frank Mason (2016-17), 382; LaceDarius Dunn (2010-11), 390; Buddy Hield (2015-16), 492; Trae Young (2017-18), 575

15-Point Games (Players In Nation’s Top-6 Conferences)
1. Carsen Edwards (Purdue), 18
2. Marial Shayok (Iowa State), 17
R.J. Barrett (Duke), 17
Markus Howard (Marquette), 17
Myles Powell (Seton Hall), 17

Shayok has been at his best in ISU’s two games against Kansas:
25.0 ppg
5.5 rpg
18-30 FG (60%)
8-13 3FG (61.5%)

Catch Shayok and the Cyclones Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT) on ESPN against Mississippi in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Shayok matched the ISU single-game record going 5-for-5 from behind the arc in ISU’s win against Kansas on Jan. 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


From the preseason:
Shayok Ready To Lead

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Rookies Build Bond, Become Leaders

Homecoming, TTU, Texas Tech, FB, Football, 2018-19

Iowa State football has had a long list of freshmen with outstanding rookie seasons, and quarterback Brock Purdy and linebacker Mike Rose have emphatically joined that list through their performance on the field in 2018.

What Purdy and Rose did this season was different, however.

Not only did they both become offensive and defensive leaders on the team, they did it as TRUE freshmen.

The dynamic duo didn’t get the benefit of sitting out a season as redshirts to learn their trade. Both entered school in the summer and wasted little time in proving their worth.

“Their leadership, intangibles and work ethic was amazing, and when your best players are your hardest workers then your program has a chance to be really successful,” Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell said. “The foundation starts right there with their work ethic and their commitment to the process. I’m really proud of them and grateful to have those young guys leading the ship for a long time.”

It’s hard to recollect first-year players at Iowa State to make such dramatic impacts, especially a pair in the same season.

Purdy was 7-2 as the Cyclone quarterback, recording the best passing efficiency rating (169.91) by a true freshman in NCAA history while rallying the Cyclones as the signal-caller. He ended the season as the ESPN Big 12 True Freshman of the Year.

Rose started all 13 games, was third on the team in tackles (75) and was named to numerous freshman All-America teams, including First-Team Freshman All-America honors by the FWAA.

When comparing Purdy and Rose’s accomplishments, a few first-year freshmen Cyclones come to mind.

Two-time All-Big 12 selection Allen Lazard was a first-year rookie in 2014. He recorded a very productive season with 45 catches for 593 yards and three touchdowns.

Leonard Johnson was also excellent. In 2008, the future NFLer had 47 tackles, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries in his first season.

Possibly the best comparison to Purdy and Rose is Jason Berryman, who was named the 2003 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in his first season with the Cyclone program. Berryman was a freshman All-American and led all NCAA rookie defensive linemen with 110 stops that year.

A native of Brecksville, Ohio, Rose was probably the biggest surprise coming out of fall camp. Rose didn’t have many “power 5” offers, but he quickly made his presence known by earning the starting spot at Mike linebacker, replacing All-American Joel Lanning.

“He was kind of a dark horse and came out of nowhere in fall camp. He made the coaches play him,” Campbell said. “From day one, the 10 players around him on defense – they knew it. I credit guys like Ray Lima and Marcel Spears because they’ve been his guiding light – to make sure that he’s the best version of himself every weekend.”

The early success even surprised Rose.

“I told my parents, ‘I’m just going to work hard and get the respect of the older players and the coaches,’” Rose said about his goal heading into fall camp. “I knew of Jake Hummel and how he didn’t redshirt but contributed on special teams. Honestly, that was my goal. I think it was about a week into it and they were like ‘go in with the ones.’ I wasn’t that comfortable with the defense yet. I think they just wanted to see me play and see how I’d react to it. It was nerve-racking but if you would’ve told me a year ago that I’d be in this position, I don’t know if I’d have believed it.”

rose_mike18ksu_10

Mike Rose celebrates after returning a fumble for a touchdown to help Iowa State overcome a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit vs. Kansas State. 

Rose definitely proved he belonged in his first career game at Iowa, leading the team in tackles with 11. By season’s end, Rose was one of the top rookie defenders nationally, ranking second in tackles for loss (9.0) among NCAA rookies and third nationally among “power 5” freshmen in tackles with 75.

“I feel like I’m a way better player, mostly just fighting off blocks,” Rose said. “A lot of that is just reps. From where I was at the beginning of the season to where I am now, I feel 100 percent more comfortable. The whole linebacker room really helped me out. I feel like at a lot of other schools that probably wouldn’t be the case because it’s competition. It was just awesome.”

Purdy, a native of Gilbert, Ariz., is one of the biggest competitors you will ever meet. A coveted February signee who had offers from Alabama and Texas A&M, even Purdy would tell you he didn’t foresee the season going the way it did.

Where Rose was picked as the starter on opening day, Purdy was third-string.

“From fall camp on, I just wanted to be ready at any point in the season,” Purdy said. “My mentality every single week was as if I was the starter, even though I wasn’t. When my opportunity came, I wanted to make the most of it.”

Indeed he did.

Purdy got his chance at Oklahoma State. The Cyclones were 1-3 at the time and facing the 25th-ranked Cowboys in a pivotal road game.

The rest will live in Cyclone history, as Purdy led the Cyclones to a 48-42 victory with 402 yards of total offense – 318 passing, 84 rushing – with five touchdowns.

“I wasn’t over-thinking anything. I was just acting like it was another high school football game,” Purdy said about his breakout game. “I went out there and I kept it simple and trusted my teammates around me. They helped me out with everything. I’m blessed that it went the way it did.”

Purdy continued to steer the ship. Soon after, the Cyclones rattled off a five-game Big 12 winning streak and ended the season with a school-record six conference triumphs.

purdy_brockab18_19

Brock Purdy threw for an Iowa State-bowl-record 315 yards vs. Washington State in the Valero Alamo Bowl. 

Purdy’s poise, leadership and toughness stood out as he matured throughout the season, breaking the all-time NCAA record for best passing efficiency total for a true freshman. Only four freshmen in NCAA history had a better passing efficiency rating than Purdy (Jameis Winston, Sam Bradford, Rudy Carpenter and Michael Vick). All four, however, sat out their first season in college as a redshirt.

“Sometimes with a young player that was having success in practice and continuing to improve every day, there can be a sense of frustration or even a step back,” Campbell said. “But with Brock, there never was. In fact, he turned it up another notch in the detail of his preparation. I think that is what is really special about Brock. It was his commitment to himself and to his craft that made him ready for success. What he’s done has been nothing short of incredible for a freshman.”

Purdy ended the season tying or sharing school records in completion percentage (66.4%), passing efficiency (169.91) and 300-yard passing games (3).

Despite playing virtually nine games, Purdy threw for 2,250 yards (ninth in school history) and 16 touchdown passes (fifth in school history), and rushed for 308 yards and five touchdowns.

The success the rookies achieved this year brought them together. Going through the same circumstances, the two have built a strong bond.

It is comforting for Cyclone fans to know the pair have become close friends, and it sparked in fall camp when Campbell roomed them together.

“They’re really good friends and really close,” Campbell said. “They carry themselves with a sense of maturity I haven’t seen, and I think that’s a credit to their families, their high school football programs and the communities that they come from.”

Purdy knew there was a connection right away.

“The first day we got here we ran together. We clicked right away,” Purdy said. “At fall camp we roomed together and we didn’t know any of this was going to happen, honestly. He holds me accountable for things. I hold him accountable for things. He runs the defense. I run the offense. We got a good thing going.”

Purdy admits he is more reserved and Rose is the outgoing one, “He’s funny. Everybody loves him. Whenever he walks into the room, he’s always smiling. Everybody on the team loves him and he brings an upbeat feeling to everything that we do.”

Rose, however, has to play second fiddle to the star quarterback.

“He’s obviously on a big stage now. Everybody is like, ‘Brock, Brock!’” Rose laughs. “But he keeps it level-headed. He’s done a great job just keeping a lower profile and being the same guy every day.”

Campbell added, “They are certainly good for each other and the fact that they play such demanding positions, yet on different sides of the football, it allows those two to have some commonalities within themselves that really attach them at the hip together.”

We can’t wait for the encore in 2019.

NCAA Leaders In Passing Efficiency
Player                                         Total
Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)      199.4
Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)       199.2
Will Grier (West Virginia)        175.5
Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)  174.1
Jake Fromm (Georgia)               171.2
Brock Purdy (Iowa State)     169.9

Most Iowa State QB Wins Over Conference Opponents (Since 1985)
Player                                     Record
Bret Meyer, 2004-07              11-20 (35.5%)
Seneca Wallace, 2001-02      8-8 (50%)
Bret Oberg, 1988-89              7-7 (50%)
Brock Purdy, 2018               6-1 (85.7%)
Alex Espinoza, 1984-86        6-8 (42.8%)
Sage Rosenfels, 1997-2000   6-10 (37.5%)

NCAA Freshman TFL Leaders
Player                                     Total
Zaven Collins (Tulsa)             9.5
Mike Rose (Iowa State)      9.0
Carlton Martial (Troy)           9.0

NCAA Freshman Tackle Leaders (Power 5)
Player                                     Total
Micah Parsons, Penn State    82
Merlin Robertson, Ariz. St.    77
Mike Rose (Iowa State)       75

 

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Harvey, Peavy Trusted The Process

 

Harvey_Peavy_webAMES, Iowa – Senior defensive stalwarts Brian Peavy (CB) and Willie Harvey (LB) will fasten their chinstraps for one of the final times this weekend at MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium, as 19 Cyclone seniors will be honored for their commitment to the program.

It’s been a long journey for the duo who have been staples in the Iowa State lineup since their freshman seasons in 2015.

With a combined 541 tackles and 83 starts, the Cyclone defense has made an incredible resurgence under their leadership. Their final two seasons have seen the ISU defense ascend to the top of the Big 12 defensive statistical rankings, and both have been key cogs to its success.

Both Peavy and Harvey joined the Cyclone team in 2014 and sat out as redshirts under Paul Rhoads’ staff. Cyclone fans saw a glimpse of the future with both making outstanding contributions as rookies in 2015.

Peavy was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection while leading the team in tackles (82) and Harvey registered 59 tackles.

Riding a wave of success, uncertainty soon followed.

Rhoads was relieved of his duties and the pair would have to start over with an entire new coaching staff and philosophy.

It was a difficult time for both.

“I was really close with Coach Rhoads,” Peavy said. “It was like losing a part of your family with the coaches you trusted leaving, so of course it was difficult, but I don’t think it held me down any or any of the other guys.”

“It was tough at first,” Harvey said about losing the coaching staff that brought him to Ames. “I built relationships with a lot of the coaches. You don’t know where to go as a player, who to look to, and you don’t know where to go and what to expect. That’s a lot of what I dealt with.”

Peavy_Brian18KU_12

Brian Peavy will end his career as a four-time All-Big 12 recipient and is one of the greatest cornerbacks in Iowa State history.

The hiring of Matt Campbell helped calm the waters. The tandem listened to what Campbell was preaching.

Trust the Process.

“To be honest with you, what he was preaching, I honestly didn’t know what it meant,” Peavy joked. “You know, it was kind of just some fancy words to me at the time. What does ‘trust the process’ mean? What does ‘the process’ look like? It took a year until we understood what he meant.”

The results didn’t come overnight, but with the work ethic and leadership of Peavy and Harvey, strides were made every day.

Campbell knew he could trust both in critical situations.

“We leaned on Brian and Willie a lot in that first year,” Campbell said. “They were young veterans and it was crucial for them to buy in. You look back now, we owe a lot to those guys, because they have been two of our most consistent players in the last three years. You talk about the growth of our defense, they are two of the biggest reasons for our success.”

The 2016 season started slow for Iowa State, but the team made vast improvement throughout the season, winning two of its last three games.

This time, Harvey led the team in tackles (78) and Peavy was an honorable mention all-league pick for the second consecutive year.

Heading into fall camp of 2017, Harvey knew something was different with the team. The culture was changing.

“It was definitely noticeable and refreshing,” Harvey remembered. “It is kind of like a 180. You definitely notice something different.”

Homecoming, TTU, Texas Tech, FB, Football, 2018-19

Willie Harvey has 26.5 TFL in his career to rank in ISU’s career top-10.

The team started out 2-2, but then proceeded to shock the college football nation by going 4-0 in October with a pair of victories over top-5 opponents (Oklahoma, TCU).

Iowa State was now a player nationally by appearing in its first College Football Playoff rankings in school history, and both were making significant contributions, especially in ISU’s 14-7 win over No. 5 TCU at home.

The pair forced key fourth quarter turnovers to stop apparent Horned Frog scores, Peavy by interception and Harvey by forced fumble.

When the game ended, the entire Cyclone Nation celebrated on the field.

It is a memory both will never forget.

“I would say it was one of my biggest memories just seeing the excitement of others,” Harvey said. “To celebrate with my teammates and fans, it was really special.”

“That was big time and kind of like a dream come true,” Peavy said. “I always kind of dreamed of college fans rushing the field. Honestly, we have had big games here at Iowa State, but we just were never able to pull out a win. To see that happen, and to see the process actually arrive, it was big for me, the team and fans. That game definitely left a stamp in history for this school.”

The season ended with a victory over No. 19 Memphis in the Liberty Bowl, just the fourth bowl win in school history.

Their legacy is continuing to shine throughout the 2018 campaign.

Victories over top-25 teams are now the norm, racking up two more triumphs against No. 25 Oklahoma State and No. 6 West Virginia, increasing ISU’s two-year win total vs. ranked teams to five.

The 2018 Cyclones were ranked again, thanks to the school’s first-ever five game single-season conference winning streak. Another victory this weekend, and Iowa State will set a new standard for conference wins in a season with six.

The culture has changed and you can see their imprints all over. It’s something they are both extremely proud of.

Harvey will end his career ranking in the top-10 on ISU’s career TFL list. He currently has 26.5.

Peavy remains one of the top cornerbacks in the nation. Teams rarely throw to his side because of his reputation. His career 43 pass breakups is second among active FBS players.

Will emotions be running high for Peavy and Harvey on Saturday? You bet they will. Fall Saturdays in Ames have become a happening thanks to their contributions.

Knowing that the final grains of sand in their hour glass are trickling down, it will be another key opportunity to pay respect to the greatest college football fans in the nation.

“I don’t know, hopefully I can hold it all together,” Harvey admitted. “It will be an emotional day but I’m going to try to hold it all together and just cherish the moment.”

The Cyclones are 14-9 in the last two seasons and heading to another bowl game, but they will look back fondly on much more than the wins when their careers are over.

“I know a lot of guys will say their best moments are off the field, and I would agree,” Peavy said. “My trip to Costa Rica (Soles for Souls) and some of the community service endeavors I did are just as memorable. I will also remember all the hard work my teammates have put in. I will think about a guy like Braxton Lewis through his journey of being a walk on and now a Big 12 candidate. A guy like Marcel Spears, too. I think that will be my favorite memories is just looking around and seeing guys follow their dreams and making them come true.”

Harvey will have similar memories.

“Facing all the adversities and sticking through it, I will always remember that,” Harvey said. “You get tired and you really think your body can’t handle it. But I’m just glad I stuck it out and I’m doing something for the greater good of the organization.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Burkhall Bouncing Back After Summer Health Scare

What was supposed to be a quiet few days off for senior forward Meredith Burkhall took a scary and life-altering turn. While No. 32 is on pace to be back on the court come November, the past two months have brought many physical challenges that have changed her life and perspective heading into the 2018-19 season.

Burkhall had just wrapped up the spring semester and returned to her Urbandale, Iowa home for a much-deserved break for the month of May. Just two days into the break she awoke to find herself unable to walk.

After her mother, Stephanie, rushed home, they went to a chiropractor believing she needed to be readjusted and that it was a back issue. It was clear rather quickly that wasn’t the issue so her mother drove her straight to the emergency room.

“I could barely stand up, my leg felt like it was falling asleep randomly,” Burkhall said of her leg when she arrived at the hospital.

Burkhall would go through hours of tests, and with doctors unable to find anything she was nearly sent home. The Burkhall’s decided it was best to stay at the hospital to continue to look into what was causing her immobility.  Finally, a late-night ultrasound at her parents’ request revealed the issue.

“I got back to the room after the ultrasound and I could barely get back in the bed. There were three people in white coats running into my room saying that I had this massive blood clot and that they needed to treat it immediately because it was heading north towards my lungs and heart,” Burkhall recalled.

She was immediately admitted into the hospital and a surgery was booked for the next morning.

To remove the blood clots, Burkhall was put through an excruciating four-day process where two catheters were inserted into her leg and medicine was injected into her to remove the clots, which took up 80 percent of the veins in her leg and stomach. The process also required a filter to be placed to prevent a clot from traveling to her heart and lungs. The worst part was that she was unable to move for four-straight days, with doctors and nurses entering the room every 10 minutes.

“You can’t move, you have to lay flat, you can’t sit up, you can’t move your arms, move your leg,” Burkhall said. “Everything was just flat. You’re in the Intensive Care Unit and you just can’t get up.”

The doctors had never done this process on someone as young as Burkhall, and she required constant supervision. After six days in the ICU she was moved to a regular room and allowed to walk.  However, complications arose when she began to walk as her heart rate shot into the 170s after taking just a few steps, which is typical of someone on a run. The spike prompted doctors to have to run an electrocardiogram to see what was happening. Fortunately they didn’t find anything, but it meant she would not be able to go home until her heart rate was improved.

Doctors were never quite able to pinpoint the cause of everything, but due to the severity, Burkhall was put on blood thinners for three months. Doctors let her know that had this happened 10 years ago, the consequences could have been more life-altering, with her no longer being allowed to play basketball. However, due to modern technology, Burkhall was given a chance at a full recovery.

In total, she would spend 12 days in the hospital before returning to her parents’ home.

However, she wasn’t out of the woods yet, as she would now have to begin a long recovery process. Upon returning from the hospital she was still unable to move around and was even relegated to a walker for two and a half weeks and crutches for several days after. Her quick turnaround impressed the doctors, who were unsure what to give her for a timetable as most people with this condition never are able to get back to 100 percent. However, given her age and fitness level, and her swift improvement it seemed it would be possible.

Burkhall credits an amazing support system for helping keep her spirits up. Constant texts, snaps and visits from her teammates, coaches and support staff helped her get through the long hospital stay and continual recovery process. Her parents also never left her side, with both spending nearly every night at the hospital. She also had a dedicated team of nurses who spent many hours with her and her family. They became invested in her recovery, and even promised to come to a game this season to see her in action.

As for the future, Burkhall is not yet cleared for contact, but she is able to practice and participate in most workouts. She is optimistic she will be one of the first to make a 100 percent recovery. She has also been cleared to travel with the team for the upcoming trip to Costa Rica, but will not be able to compete in the games. She will also need to wear compression leggings on all flights and during workouts to help with blood flow.

The experience was life changing for Burkhall, who says it gave her a different perspective on life.

“Sometimes when I was laying there I’d be like, ‘this isn’t even about getting back for the season. This is about being healthy in my life,’” she said. “You never know what can just change in a day. Literally in 48 hours I went from having a tight back to emergency surgery. You never know what can happen in the blink of an eye. Do what you want to do every day because you never know what can come in your way or stop you because I did not expect that.”

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