AMES — Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell saw the obstacles in his spring practice schedule and knew it would be unconventional.
ISU’s spring break fell from March 13-17 and with Easter passing last Sunday, the only choice was for practices to start as early as February.
That in itself might have been a blessing, given how many young players needed some form of consistency in workouts.
“I just think from a planning standpoint and from how do we get the most out of our kids and give our kids a chance to maximize their days, that was the biggest reasoning,” Campbell said on Tuesday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference. “We really liked our schedule this spring and we thought it was something that was certainly different than what we’ve done, but really helpful for us.”
Iowa State practiced for two straight weeks, took a hiatus for spring break and reconvened for three straight weeks to end spring workouts. The opportunity for youngsters, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines, to have some sort of regimented schedule among the breaks and holidays proved beneficial.
Middle linebacker Joel Lanning, who transitioned from quarterback this spring, found himself taking full advantage to recharge his batteries.
“I was pretty banged up the first few weeks with bruises,” Lanning said after the spring game. “Spring break came around, it was nice to have a week off.
“When you’re in the season and you’re going 12 weeks in a row or 13 or 14 or whatever it is with the bye weeks and stuff, you’ve got to take care of your body. It’s going to be huge for me to take care of my body this summer, too.”
The revised calendar proved to be as useful for coaches, too. The NCAA football recruiting evaluation period began April 15 and will last until May 31. Having on-field work with the current team done for a week-plus before evaluation began allowed the coaches to craft their travel and recruiting schedules more methodically.
“Recruiting is consistently at the forefront of what we do,” Campbell said. “The opportunity for our staff to get a whole week to meet with players individually and then us collectively as a staff (was invaluable). Then getting a great plan on what we’re doing and how do we execute to the fullest in this recruiting cycle.”
Among the changes the NCAA Division I Council approved last Friday, college football programs will now be able to hire a 10th on-field assistant coach starting Jan. 9, 2018. Campbell already has an idea of what he wants in that position.
Iowa State has specific coaches for all its positions, but wide receivers coach Bryan Gasser doubles as the special teams coordinator. Campbell said there are a few options in which the team could go in filling that spot, but don’t be surprised to see quality control assistant Joe Houston get the nod.
“I think we’ve thrown around a lot of different things, but for us, we’re fortunate to have a couple really strong candidates within,” Campbell said. “I’ve always been a big believer when you’ve got guys that have shown the ability to be a position coach or positional coach, to kind of fill those opportunities from within.”
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