116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell provided an interesting nugget during Monday’s media day: Iowa State covered more kicks than anybody in the nation.
The Cyclones cycled through kickoff specialists last year due to injury but none of them were able to consistently get the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
Enter Fordham transfer Andrew Mevis. In 2019, Mevis kicked the ball off 63 times and had 50 touchbacks. For comparison, Drake Nettles, who had the most kickoffs for Iowa State last season had two touchbacks.
“The kickoff is a challenging play no matter how you slice it, and I think we have an outstanding kick coverage team,” Campbell said. “I’ve always been really proud of what that group has done but it’s just the law of averages, the more opportunities teams get in kickoffs, the more challenging that is. There were moments last year where our kickoffs hurt our football team.
“What we’ve seen as camp continues to evolve is Andrew has a lot of strengths. He has a really strong leg, which has been really fun to watch.”
New nose guards
Iowa State didn’t have much attrition from last year’s team but the nose guard position had both Josh Bailey and Latrell Bankston enter the transfer portal.
The only returning player is Isaiah Lee.
Campbell isn’t too worried about that. He’s high on redshirt freshman J.R. Singleton and true freshman Howard Brown, who played quarterback in high school.
“I think J.R. Singleton is one of the most talented young players in our football program,” Campbell said. “He has tremendous ability and is a rising star. Howard Brown has come in and he is, in my opinion, cut out of the same mold as J.R. Singleton. Howard is very mature and he’s as big as big can be — sometimes too big — but he can run and he can play quarterback, so maybe we’ll do a little bit of that.”
Campbell was mostly joking about the 6-foot-2, 325-pound Brown returning to his quarterback position, but also noted that if it did happen, Brown would be behind center, not under center since he’s never taken a snap from under center — so he’s at least thought about it that far.
Tarique Milton back at full strength
Receiver Tarique Milton has shown his ability since his freshman season when he caught 34 passes for 417 yards. But injuries have slowed him down.
Last season, he played in just six games and caught 15 passes for 102 yards. After a season of injuries, Milton is healthy again and ready to regain his form.
“Tarique’s mindset has grown the most,” Campbell said. “Any time you get injured, that’s hard. Tarique makes that huge play against Oklahoma early in the season but suffers a really hard injury on that very play. He rehabs it and comes back and makes a couple of really big plays in the Texas game. After that he was just battling back and forth. That’s hard. Mentally, that’s really challenging.
“After that season he had to go on a little soul-searching mission. If you see Tarique now, man, he looks phenomenal. It’s the best I’ve seen him physically look. He’s almost 200 pounds and he looks big, strong and powerful. He’s really flashed these first few days of practice, which I’m really excited about. We’ve seen the most consistent and healthy Tarique Milton ever. I’m excited about that for him.”