116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State has seven offensive linemen who have gotten significant snaps during their Cyclone career and, like all offensive lines, only has five positions.
Colin Newell will be the center and Sean Foster will be the left tackle. Trevor Downing will likely take over his left-guard spot after missing most of last season due to injury.
The two positions that have the heaviest competitions are right guard and right tackle.
Darrell Simmons and Derek Schweiger will be the main two competitors for the right-guard spot. Schweiger moved from right guard to left guard when Downing got injured and Simmons filled in at right guard.
Schweiger is a senior while Simmons is a sophomore but offensive line coach Jeff Myers liked what Simmons brought to the table.
“He has some of the best feet that I’ve seen,” Myers said of the 6-foot-3 Simmons. “He’s very quick and very twitchy and he has the ability to play with power. Everyone makes fun of him because he’s a little on the shorter side but he has a 6-foot-8 wingspan and he has great leverage.
“His shortness allows him to play with a natural leverage. He goes against Enyi (Uwazurike), who is 6-foot-7, and you’d think Darrell’s height would be a disadvantage, but his arms are just as long and Darrell is naturally underneath his helmet.”
Uwazurike said Simmons was one of the toughest guys he has to go against every day at practice.
At right tackle, Iowa State cycled through two players last season. Joey Ramos started the season as the right tackle but got injured against Texas Tech. Jake Remsburg took over for Ramos until he got hurt against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
Those two will battle it out to see who starts this season.
Remsburg and Simmons are in the same class and pushed each other when they each got their opportunities last season as freshmen.
“If one guy had a good play, the other wanted to have a great play right after,” Remsburg said. “It was awesome playing next to him last year.”
No matter who starts, Myers will have decisions to make but right now, he’s letting it all play out.
“That’s the one thing that is very different now,” Myers said of the competition. “Guys will naturally ride the wave — one day good, the next not so good. We have to battle to be consistent because if you don’t, somebody else is. That’s what guys are seeing because we’ve been fluid with our depth chart. Guys have earned opportunities to run with the first group and we’ve done that for them. That doesn’t mean we don’t trust the other guy but we have to continue to push the standard of the room to the elite level.
“We have guys who started every game last year, but if they’re not holding themselves to that elite standard and there’s a guy pushing for time, then we’re going to see what that guy has. It’s fun to watch and see how guys respond and battle back.”
And no matter what, Iowa State will roll out one of the best offensive lines in the country. Phil Steele has the Cyclone offensive line tabbed as the fourth-best in the country.
Iowa State has experienced starters and proven, experienced backups.
“The group that we roll out this season will be the most experienced group we have ever had,” Myers said. “We’ll have guys, no matter what, who are in the second unit that have played a lot of games for us at a high level.”