INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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THE DEPTH CHART
RB — 1. Mike Warren, so., 6-0, 205; 2. David Montgomery, fr., 5-11, 222; 3. Kene Nwangwu, fr., 6-1, 188; 4. Mitchell Harger, sr., 5-10, 200; 5. Sheldon Croney Jr., Rfr., 5-11, 205
NEXT MAN IN: SLASH AND DASH
Mike Warren played sparingly in the first two games last season, but averaged 111.6 yards per game. He accounted for 45.5 percent of Iowa State’s rushing attempts with quarterback Joel Lanning checking in as the second best rusher with 30 yards per game.
Backups Tyler Brown and Joshua Thomas are gone as transfers, but true freshmen David Montgomery and Kene Nwangwu arrived this summer and have already been dubbed ‘Slash’ and ‘Dash’ by running backs coach Lou Ayeni.
Despite their youth, Ayeni and Iowa State coach Matt Campbell have seen both guys make legitimate cases for playing time this season. Montgomery is a bigger back that is capable of speed bursts while Nwangwu’s leaner frame allows him to be shifty.
The addition of the true freshmen has also elevated Warren, who is still young in his own right as just a sophomore.
“Those guys are making us play them right now,” Ayeni said of the freshmen. “They’re doing a very good job of performing when they get on the field. You can’t rest on your laurels in my room because every single day is a competition for carries. I think it’s really helped Mike. It’s helped him because he’s had to be a leader and a little bit of a teacher so he has to be an expert in what he’s doing as well.”
It’s undecided how much either of the true freshmen will play, but Campbell lauded their raw ability at Iowa State’s media day and said there is potential for both to be used in some capacity behind Warren.
“We’re really lucky that we recruited really well this year because those two freshmen are as talented as any two young freshmen maybe that we’ve had the ability to recruit,” Campbell said. “I’m really excited about what they’ve shown in flashes.”
Iowa State has a true stable of tailbacks in the fold with senior Mitchell Harger and redshirt freshman Sheldon Croney also in the mix. Croney spent last season recovering from a hand injury he suffered before arriving in Ames while Harger played in all 12 games on special teams and had five carries for 29 yards against Kansas.
“I think we feel a lot better about that position today than what I felt like leaving spring practice,” Campbell said. “I think what you’ll see is a collective effort at that running back position.”