116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — As the close losses piled up and a lost season that ended in a rare blowout wound down, one thing became glaringly clear to Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell: Change was needed, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
So Campbell parted ways with longtime offensive coordinator Tom Manning three weeks ago and swiftly replaced him with former running backs and wide receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase.
But that’s not the only personnel shake-up for the Cyclones after they failed to forge a winning season for the first time since 2016. Campbell addressed some of those staff changes during Wednesday’s National Signing Day news conference.
“I don’t know, for me, if I can say enough great things obviously about Nate,” Campbell said. “Again, I think it starts with core values — who he is, his ability to create great relationships and care about kids.
“College football, even though we can get off the rails on it sometimes, and I get it. It’s still about servant leadership. Our job is to get that 18-year-old young man to become a 22-year-old man and I think, to me, that is one of Nate’s greatest qualities. He has the servant heart to care and inspire and lead young people.”
Campbell feels the same way about new director of strength and conditioning, Reid Kagy, who served as an assistant in ISU’s staff from 2016-18 and spent the past two season leading Boise State’s strength and sports performance staff. He replaces Dave Andrews, who was not retained after leading the program’s strength and conditioning staff the past three seasons.
“It just seemed like the right fit at the right time for Iowa State football and for myself and our program,” Campbell said. “I think you can already tell he’s had a really positive impact in just a short week here and I think will have a huge impact in our program, not just on the field, but off the field in a multitude of different ways.”
Campbell also is searching for a new quarterbacks coach and offensive line coach, but those changes haven’t been cemented, nor made official. Campbell also was asked if he would consider finding and hiring a dedicated special teams coach, and his short answer was essentially “maybe” — with a caveat attached.
“I think those are the puzzle pieces that you continue to put together,” Campbell said. “You realize when you do something like that, you have to understand what you’re going to give up at times, too. (That’s) potentially giving up a position not being coached by a full-time coach, so I think the right person in the right place, if that lends us the ability to fill it the right way, I think we will.
“I think we’re looking at every possibility to make sure we can put he best coaching staff (in place) to give our kids the best opportunity to have great success, so I don’t think anything’s off the table.”
Especially on offense, where ISU ranked 113th or worse nationally in several important statistical categories, including scoring offense, red zone conversions and rushing offense.
“The story’s always going to be the same here, right?” said Campbell, whose team went 1-6 this season in one-score games. “You’re either gonna win the inches or you’re gonna lose the inches. The great thing that I still think (with) where we’re at is we’re talking about inches. And to win those inches, everything in the program has to be aligned.”
That’s one reason changes were required on ISU’s staff, including elevating Scheelhaase to lead the offense — and the Cyclones’ highest-rated Class of 2023 signee fully approves.
“Scheelhaase and Campbell are two people I have a great connection with,” said four-star Ankeny quarterback J.J. Kohl, who will play in next month’s Under Armour Next All-America game. “I really enjoy being around them and I’m really looking forward to being up there and working with them.”