116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State’s offensive line took the step last season that fans had been waiting for since head coach Matt Campbell’s arrival.
It turned into a dominant force that allowed running back Breece Hall to lead the nation in rushing and it allowed the fewest sacks in the Big 12 despite playing in the most games.
And it did it without left guard Trevor Downing on the field, arguably the best lineman on the team.
Even though his injury took him off the field, it didn’t slow him down.
“I sat in the front row and took notes as if I was starting,” Downing said. “Then I’d bring them to the young guys and help them during their developmental year and help them learn the play book.”
As coach Jeff Myers broke down the film, Downing wasn’t taking notes for himself. He was taking notes on things he wished he had known as a young freshman or redshirt freshman, to help bring those guys along.
Then during practice, while the first- and second-teamers were practicing, he’d take the young guys to the side and coach them up.
“He had high expectations for himself going into last season and I felt like he was ready to go and be a leader for our team,” Myers said. “For his season to be cut short at the beginning of the year, was hard for him. After the injury, the challenge became making sure he was involved in every way possible.
“On the field, he was coaching the guys, he was leading meetings when guys would get together outside of our offensive line meetings. He was able to bring the young guys along as well as help the veteran guys who didn’t have the game reps that he did.
“Trevor did a really good job of finding the silver lining.”
Thanks to Downing’s guidance, Iowa State’s offensive line is in as good of a place as it ever was.
Because of the blanket waiver by the NCAA that allowed players to return for an extra year, the Cyclones have their entire offensive line back.
Iowa State not only has proven starters but it appears to have reliable backups. The coaches saw that take place when Darrell Simmons replaced Downing due to injury and when Jake Remsburg replaced Joey Ramos due to injury.
With Downing’s help developing more depth during the season, Myers is excited to see how those guys continue to progress as spring is over and as the team transitions into summer workouts and then fall camp.
“You have guys like Jarrod Hufford, Rob Hudson and Grant Trieber,” Myers said. “Of the guys who red-shirted, I’m equally excited to see all of those guys as they progress from spring to summer to fall. Guys like Tyler Miller, Brady Petersen, Sam Rengert, Hayden Puals and Anthony Smith. I’m excited to watch those grow.”
Some of those guys probably expected to get a shot this season because in a normal year, left tackle Sean Foster would’ve graduated.
“We have incredible depth, now,” Myers said. “It’s something we’ve worked really hard to develop here because depth breeds competition. The more competition guys are having, the better they’re becoming. Even for our young guys who probably had their sights set on some guys graduating, it’s going to be an interesting dynamic.
“We have a lot of guys in our room that are more than capable of going in and playing in a football game. We haven’t had that luxury in the past.”