AMES — It’s easy to look at David Montgomery and try to pigeonhole him as a burly, short-yardage back.
His freshman season at Iowa State has proved he’s so much more.
After sharing an “OR” spot on last week’s depth chart with sophomore Mike Warren and freshman Kene Nwangwu at running back, Montgomery was elevated to the clear No. 1 roll in Monday’s notes.
“I think his tenacity that he was running with on Saturday really allowed us to say, ‘Man we’ve got to keep giving the guy that’s really running the ball well, keep giving him the ball,’” said Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell. “That doesn’t take a whole lot of coaching genius to be able to do that.”
Montgomery, who was nicknamed “Slash” by running backs coach Lou Ayeni this fall, had 24 carries for 169 yards with a long of 46. He also was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday.
The 5-foot-11, 222-pounder looks like a goal-line and short-yardage tailback, but his elusiveness and pass-catching ability has given the Cyclones (2-8, 1-6) a new dimension in the backfield. Montgomery has 77 carries for 391 yards and two touchdowns this season, with eight catches for 70 yards.
“He had an instant impact on all of us,” said senior running back Mitchell Harger. “Just kind of me being a senior and seeing him come here with his impact, I’ve never really seen anything like it before. He knew that he was going to be playing and we all knew he was going to be playing from his demeanor and his stature and everything.”
Montgomery’s production in Saturday’s game resulted in a few different factors, the biggest one being coaches went with the hot hand. There also are questions about Warren’s health, which hasn’t been the same since he sprained an ankle against Kansas State on Oct. 29.
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Warren had three carries for 17 yards, all in the first half, Saturday while Harger was substituted in and had eight carries for 58 yards and a touchdown. Campbell said the main objective for Warren before Saturday’s game against Texas Tech (2:30 p.m. on FS1) has to be to get healthy.
“The one thing I’ve appreciated about Mike over the last two or three weeks is he’s stayed locked in, had great attention to detail and I think once he’s back 100 percent it’s going to be really fun to see what that looks like,” Campbell said. “We’re fortunate right now where we’ve got a lot of guys playing well.”
In Warren’s absence as a starter, Montgomery has flourished with career bests in carries and rushing yards against the Jayhawks. He also became the 10th ISU freshman to have 100-plus rushing yards in a game.
“Most kids that come in are 18 years old and a little bit naïve and don’t really understand the whole process of college football and what it takes to be successful,” said wide receiver Allen Lazard. “He came here with a mission.”
CAMPOS COULD BE READY FOR SPRING BALL
Campbell said Campos is out of a walking boot and has been able to participate in weight-room activities while rehabbing. The expectation is to have Campos healthy enough to participate in spring ball.
“I don’t know if you could ever say there’s a silver lining losing a guy like Jake Campos (before the season), but I’ll tell you, Jake looks really good right now, definitely as strong as he’s ever been,” Campbell said. “He’s really used this time both in terms of coaching those young offensive linemen, but also helping himself get bigger and stronger than he’s ever been. I think we’re all excited to get him back.”
WEST VIRGINIA KICKOFF
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Iowa State’s season finale, a home game against West Virginia on Nov. 26, has been selected for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on FS1.
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