116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — The Iowa State football team didn’t experience much attrition after last season thanks to the blanket waiver from the NCAA that allowed players to have an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But much of the attrition it did experience came from the defensive line.
JaQuan Bailey graduated and put his name in the NFL Draft, his twin brother Josh Bailey graduated and transferred and Latrell Bankston transferred.
JaQuan Bailey and Bankston were both starters and Josh Bailey was Bankston’s backup.
JaQuan Bailey was one of, if not the best, defensive ends in Iowa State history. He had the most sacks in a season, most career sacks and most career tackles for loss in Iowa State history.
Last season Bailey had 38 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
Bankston and Josh Bailey combined for 31 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
The Cyclones have plenty of production to replace as well as the leadership void left by JaQuan Bailey.
Iowa State defensive line coach Eli Rasheed is turning to some young faces to replace the production and sixth-year senior Enyi Uwazurike to take on an even bigger leadership role.
“We lean on (Uwazurike) a lot just given all of the reps and game experience he’s had,” Rasheed said. “When those game weeks come, him being with us, studying film and bringing young guys with him will pay off. He’s going to go the extra mile when he prepares for a team and that’s going to be valuable.”
Uwazurike has never been a stat-sheet stuffer, much in the same way All-Big 12 D-lineman Ray Lima wasn’t, but their impact on and off the field is hard to duplicate. That being said, Uwazurike did have his most productive season of his career last year with 27 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks.
Uwazurike has been a starter since he was a sophomore and played in all 13 games as a freshman as a key reserve. The experience he’s had and the leaders he’s been around — like Lima and Bailey — has set him up to help guide young players like Blake Peterson, J.R. Singleton and Corey Suttle who will have to help fill the voids left by Josh Bailey and Bankston.
“I just watched the people before me,” Uwazurike said. “I feel like that’s the key to becoming a great leader in this program. I’ve learned you have to bond with everyone inside and outside of football. Everyone is different and it’s easier to know how everyone likes to communicate and be treated when you’re around them a lot.
“It’s about adapting to all of the different personalities.”
Rasheed has seen a different Uwazurike this spring as he takes on his new leadership role.
“He’s coming out on fire,” Rasheed said of Uwazurike. “He’s really focused, his competition level in practice is very high and I think for those young guys who haven’t been around a guy like that a lot — man, he’s going to have great value in the summer and fall as well, not just the spring.
“He’s just a guy that gives you a great example of what a senior looks like. Some of the young guys don’t know how to act or practice and he’s been that example for us in the room and out on the practice field.”