Iowa State football notes: Will Kyle Kempt be back next season?

Plus: Bowl practice standouts, possible NFL futures

Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt. (Ben Queen/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt. (Ben Queen/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES – Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt could be coming back to Ames next season.

Kempt and Coach Matt Campbell filed a hardship waiver to the NCAA to get Kempt another season.

“It’s kind of a unique situation and there’s really no precedent on it,” Campbell said. “I know we’ve done everything from our end, I’d love to find something out before the game (Liberty Bowl), but I don’t know if we will.”

The basis that Kempt, Campbell and Iowa State are going off of is that while he was at Oregon State, the Beavers had a coaching change, and at Hutchinson Community College there was a coaching change while he was there as well.

“There’s a little bit of precedent for that, I think Tanner Lee at Nebraska had a very similar type of situation,” Campbell said. “That’s the foundation that we put toward that. Now, whatever happens, happens and we’ll live with it.”

Campbell said Kempt’s situation hasn’t impacted how he and his staff are treating the quarterback position going forward.

“We’ve had a lot of uncertainty of what the future holds at that position,” Campbell said. “Our thing is, when we came in, that wasn’t a position with great depth. We were able to create some depth in there and I think that’s an area we just have to continue to do a really good job. We’ve had two guys that have been injured and getting healthy. We’ll get (incoming freshman) Re-al (Mitchell) in here in the spring, so we’ll have more of an idea of what our depth looks like in that position.”

The two quarterbacks that got injured were Zeb Noland and Devon Moore, both in their redshirt years.

It took Noland almost a year to recover from his ACL injury, due to complications after the surgery. He didn’t start throwing 7-on-7 until spring practices. Moore, on the other hand, started throwing 7-on-7 in December.

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“He’s light years ahead of where Zeb was,” Campbell said. “To get Devon to do that, now, hopefully you can get him to really full go by the time you get to spring practice, that’s a real positive.”

While Kempt’s situation isn’t affecting Campbell and his staff, it is affecting Kempt.

“I think he’d love to know what’s going on with his future,” Campbell said.

BOWL PRACTICE STANDOUTS

Campbell and his staff have made a name for themselves on the recruiting trail. Their first two recruiting classes at Iowa State are impressing Campbell.

Campbell is high on some of the young skill-position guys.

“Guys like (wide receiver) Tarique Milton, true redshirt freshman, a guy that’s got some difference in terms of elite speed, the ability to go get the football,” Campbell said. “Running back, I told you about Kene (Nwangwu) – man, oh man, you wish you had that guy. Even three or four weeks ago, he’s a total difference maker, and I’m really excited to get Kene back. Johnnie Lang had a really good three or four last weeks for us.”

Nwangwu played last year for the Cyclones as a true freshman, mostly returning kicks, but tore his ACL in the offseason. He was going to battle Mike Warren and Sheldon Croney for the backup running back spot.

Up front, Iowa State’s offensive line hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t always gotten a good push up front. Campbell sees that changing.

“Then you talk about the young offensive line with (Jacob) Bolton and the crew,” Campbell said. “That group’s going to be really, really special. It was nice to be able to coach those guys for six or seven days, where you gave all of your attention to those young guys, and I thought there was great development.”

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Defensive linemen Matt Leo and Kamilo Tongamoa had a lot of hype surrounding them coming out of the junior college ranks. But Tongamoa arrived late and Leo dealt with some early injuries.

“Matt’s a guy, six weeks ago, you thought he could’ve played, but you had the ability to redshirt him,” Campbell said. “Tongamoa’s another guy. Those two guys on the defensive line, young but old guys, really got attention and time and I thought were great.”

The secondary might have the most young talent. Campbell said freshman Keonte Jones, Richard Bowens and O.J. Tucker all had a chance to start playing mid-season.

“Those secondary guys, Keonte Jones and Richard Bowens – the list there kind of goes on and on,” Campbell said. “Those guys have really showed up and really done a nice job. We kind of made the concerted effort not to play them in the best interest of them. I think that’ll really pay dividends as we get into spring practice.”

FUTURE IN THE NFL?

Campbell and his staff filed for information to the NFL on defensive backs Brian Peavy and D’Andre Payne and wide receiver Hakeem Butler. They did the same thing for Allen Lazard last season to see what he needed to work on to improve before his senior year.

“You hope you get your program to where you have guys like that and you can at least figure out where they’re at, and at the very least, it tells them what they have to work on and what they need to do to help themselves,” Campbell said.

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