116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Matt Campbell has said Iowa State’s football team will always be better when it's older.
As a developmental program, and one that doesn’t reel in many four-star players (much less a five-star one), what Campbell said makes sense.
It takes time to bring guys along to play Power Five football.
The Cyclones have age and ability in their defensive secondary this season.
Safeties coach and former Cyclone player Deon Broomfield actually joked that senior Greg Eisworth is so old he thought he remembered playing with him.
Cornerback and fellow senior Anthony Johnson has played since he was a true freshman.
Their experience has prepared them for anything opposing offenses might throw at them.
But it does more than that, too. Part of being better as an older team is being able to mentor and bring the young players along.
That’s something Eisworth and Johnson have done and continue to do.
“Greg brings a maturity and leadership presence to the room, and he understands that,” Broomfield said. “That was part of the reason he came back, so he could help the younger players.”
A new player will have to step into a starting spot this fall. Lawrence White graduated, so safety is one of the few places Iowa State experienced attrition.
Sophomore Mason Chambers will have an opportunity to take on that role since he got playing time as a true freshman last season and the coaching staff liked what it saw.
Broomfield wants Eisworth to help bring him along.
“(Eisworth) sets the standard for everyone in the room and I don’t shy away from holding him to a high standard and letting everyone else know that you should be looking at the way Greg goes through his drill work, the way he communicates and the way he does the things that take no talent,” Broomfield said. “As a coach, I have to make sure the younger guys in the room understand that he is the standard and we want to keep building his standard so everyone can see that even though he’s as good as he is, he knows there are things he can still improve on as well.
“He brings a leadership maturity in how he goes about his work.”
Eisworth came to Iowa State pretty polished. He was a four-star recruit out of high school before transferring to Iowa State from Trinity Valley Community College.
Johnson was raw, but because Brian Peavy and De’Andre Payne graduated the year before Johnson arrived on campus, he was thrust into major playing time as a freshman.
He has his feet under him now and has turned into the best corner on Iowa State’s roster and among the best in the Big 12.
“Anthony has grown a lot,” cornerbacks coach Matt Caponi said. “Not only as a football player but as a person. He’s really become the leader of the group.
“He can line up on the field side or the boundary side, he’s our best cover guy and he’s had so much experience, he’s almost like a second coach. He really helped develop our younger guys last year in T.J. (Tampa) and Michal (Antoine). They played a little bit and they were a couple plays away from playing a lot more.
“He’s done a really good job leading those guys and pushing them to become better football players on and off the field. He helps me out a ton.”