AMES — Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell’s job isn’t just to coach the players. It’s to coach the coaches, as well, and groom them to take over roles within the organization.
It’s something he learned from his Mount Union playing days when Larry Kehres was the coach.
On Friday, Campbell announced four personnel changes to his football staff, all coming from within the program.
“That’s what’s neat about being able to promote from within,” Campbell said. “Everybody kind of knows their roles. They know where and how it goes down. That’s what has allowed us to have success and that’s what will allow us to continue to have success. That’s one of the unique things about us, we have a lot of really good, young talented coaches in our program and being able to bring those coaches up from within and continue to strengthen our program where needed, it certainly allows us to add great value to our football team.”
One of the biggest names to get promoted was Jeff Meyers. He was a graduate assistant for the last two years, helping out with the offensive line. He was promoted to offensive line coach after the departure of Tom Manning, who was offensive coordinator and line coach and took a position with the Indianapolis Colts.
Because of Manning’s role, Meyers was making the in-game adjustments for the offensive line.
Last year, Manning didn’t even come out of the box for halftime, letting Meyers handle everything. Meyers played under Campbell at Toledo before a short stint in the NFL. He knows what Campbell wants.
“It wasn’t a big deal to me (to make in-game adjustments),” Meyers said. “I prepared myself accordingly. What gives me a leg up is I played in this offense. I really understood it inside and out. To make those in-game adjustments, it wasn’t much different than being a player. I could understand, per scheme, what was happening and what should happen.”
That’s what he believes will allow him to have success as the offensive line coach. It’ll help the players, too.
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“I went through a coach change at Toledo, too,” Meyers said. “The head coach left and there was a lot of uncertainty. We were lucky enough that coach Campbell got promoted. I had a great relationship with him and he recruited me out of high school and was my offensive line coach. But that’s what made the transition so easy for me as a player.
“Fast forward a couple of years and it’s kind of the same situation here. We were able to promote from within — there’s already a relationship there. I’ve been a part of the rebuilding process here over the last two years. It’s really big for our players more than anything.”
Another in-house hire was Joe Houston to fill the 10th assistant spot the NCAA allows now. Houston will be a special teams coach. Campbell said he was instrumental in Cole Netten’s and Garrett Owen’s success over the last two years.
“Joe is definitely one of the most dynamic, young, special teams coaches in the country,” Campbell said. “He’s maybe the best kicking coach in the country. At the end it, it really became a no-brainer situation to promote him from within.”
Before, Houston couldn’t be as hands-on. He almost had to coach the coaches on how to handle kickers. Now, he can do it directly, which is a huge benefit for Iowa State since it has two new specialists in kicker Brayden Narveson and punter Corey Dunn.
“It’s unique in the fact that now I can be hands-on,” Houston said. “I can really be integrated in their development physically and technically. That’s what kicking is, it’s technique. That’s probably my favorite thing now. I can be hands on because they haven’t played here.”
The final change in the staff was switching Joel Gordon’s and Jim Hofher’s roles. Hofher was the passing game coordinator, but is now the offensive analyst/assistant to the head coach. Gordon was the offensive analyst, but is now the quarterbacks coach.
Iowa State’s quarterback room is full of talent for the first time in years. Kyle Kempt and Zeb Noland have proven they can play at a Big 12 level, and Devon Moore and Re-al Mitchell are young players with high-end potential.
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“You found out what (a full quarterback room) can do for your football team a year ago,” Gordon said. “I don’t think anybody on our team or staff had any idea that Kyle Kempt was going to come in, prepare for four days and lead your team to win against Oklahoma. Now that the other guys have seen it happen, they know it’s real.
“Going in as a quarterback that’s never done it can be one of the scariest things, but now we have Kyle and we’ve got Zeb. Now we have Devon and Re-al that haven’t had that experience yet and we have to bring them up to speed so if something does happen, those guys are ready to go.”
Campbell felt he was limiting Hofher when he was just the passing game coordinator. Now, he feels they can use all of his abilities.
“Here’s a guy that’s been a head coach at the Ivy League and the Mid-American Conference,” Campbell said. “Here’s a guy that thinks way more that offensive football. I think he sees everything. He feels everything. He’s a phenomenal evaluator of talent. Jim brings so many values to our entire program that I felt that we were limiting him just being the passing game coordinator.
“It’s a huge opportunity to strengthen our program in a lot of ways. You always hate it when you lose good people, but when good people leave, it’s our job to get them to be able to leave and have opportunities. But it also gives us opportunities to strengthen our program.”
The only spot still open is the offensive coordinator position, a place Campbell has experience. He said he may not have an official “offensive coordinator” title. He’s going to wait and see until after the spring to make that decision.
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