Matt Campbell used trust to start building Iowa State foundation

Big 12 title game provides opportunity; Meyers 'looks great' in return to practice

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MARION — Six months ago, before he was even formally introduced to the public, Matt Campbell started to build.

Campbell started assembling members of his staff — largely from his former school at Toledo — hours after he accepted the job. The first-year Iowa State coach knew the challenge he faced with having to build his first recruiting class in 65 days.

Trust is what Campbell relied on during those early days.

“That’s something I’ve always believed in is to give opportunities for those people to reach their own full potential,” Campbell said Thursday at a charity event at Hunter’s Ridge Golf Course.

“It’s been a learning process for me and I’m still not perfect at it, but it’s still an area we work really hard to continue to grow. I really believe that’s critical to our success and our football program in general.”

Quick action stemming from that trust Campbell has for his staff — all of whom he has worked with in the past — allowed Iowa State to achieve the No. 48 recruiting class on in 2016. The program saw a 40-spot jump after the coaching change and hasn’t lost that sense of urgency on the recruiting trail.

Iowa State started summer workouts this month and although coaches haven’t been allowed to spend time coaching them on the field, Campbell has been able to see the integration of his first ISU team take place.

Campbell talked to his team this spring about not taking any steps backward through the summer and continuing to develop habits that would be a catalyst for improvement when fall camp began. He’s relying on experienced players like Joel Lanning, Mike Warren and Allen Lazard to lead that charge.

“There is a lot you can do even though we can’t go out there and coach you every day,” Campbell said. “Great players and great teams have the ability to work on their craft. I think that’s probably the most important thing is to watch those guys and watch their attention to detail through these summer months.”

Iowa State’s first commitment of 2016 was South Winneshiek’s Carson Lensing, who verbally committed June 20 of last year. The Cyclones sit at 12 verbal commitments as the staff hosts its final camp this weekend in Ames.

“I think we’ve worked really, really hard to try to catch up and at least get ourselves on an even playing field,” Campbell said. “Again the credit there goes to our coaching staff. They’ve been relentless with their work ethic, time and commitment. I really appreciate it and I think they’ve done a tremendous job.”


Big 12 presidents and chancellors voted unanimously earlier this month to hold a conference football championship game beginning in 2017.

Until January, conferences with less than 12 members — such as the Big 12 — were not permitted to hold a championship game. The Big 12 is the only Power 5 league without one, and Campbell said the addition of that final game adds opportunity for the league.

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“I come from a conference that had that championship game,” said Campbell, who coached Toledo in the Mid-American Conference. “I tell you, the value of playing until the very last week of the season, the opportunity to play for an extra game and for a championship, those are big.

“That’s such a huge opportunity and however it sorts itself out when we get there down the road will be interesting, but I think the opportunity to play a championship game, that’s a great thing for any conference.”


Iowa State defensive lineman Mitchell Meyers spent all of last season on the sidelines and at his home in The Woodlands, Texas, after receiving a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis in February 2015.

Now 16 months after that diagnosis, Meyers has engaged in workouts with the team and is enrolled in summer classes in Ames.

“He looks great. As a matter of fact, I just saw him (Thursday) as I was leaving and told him it looks like he’s got muscles again,” Campbell said. “I think he’s really brought a lot to the table even in just the month and a half of really being back involved with our football team.”

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