AMES — Iowa State senior linebacker/quarterback Joel Lanning was named second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated as an all-purpose player.
“The kid (Lanning) has played over 900 snaps of football. That’s unheard of,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “He’s as great of a competitor and warrior I have ever been around in this sport. You can’t put into words what Joel has done for this football program and he is one of the best stories in college football.
“There’s a lot of really good players, but I don’t know if there’s somebody that does more for their team than Joel.”
A true three-way player, Lanning has had a remarkable senior season leading the Cyclones into the national rankings for the first time since 2005 and their first bowl berth in five years with his uncanny versatility.
The two-time team captain switched to linebacker before the 2017 season after spending his first four years in Ames as a quarterback, perhaps making Lanning one of the best comeback stories in college football history.
He didn’t play a down in his final game as a junior before Campbell convinced him to try linebacker for his senior season, a position he hadn’t played since eighth grade.
His transition has been remarkable, leading the Cyclone defense, which ranks 28th nationally in scoring defense (21.0), at the Mike linebacker spot.
Lanning ranks 31st nationally in tackles per game (9.2), registering a team-high four double-digit tackle performances, including a career-high 20 stops vs. Texas. His 20 tackles vs. the Longhorns ranks ninth in school history and ties for fifth among FBS players this season.
Lanning also leads the team in sacks (5.0), ranks second in tackles for loss (10.0) and has a fumble recovery and interception.
Lanning first appeared on the national radar with his incredible “Iron Man” performance at Oklahoma on Oct. 7. Playing 78 total snaps (57 on defense, 13 on offense, eight on special teams), the Cyclones upset No. 3 Oklahoma, 38-31, en route to their first win over a top-five opponent on the road.
Lanning finished the Oklahoma game with eight tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, 35 rushing yards and 25 passing yards in one of the most memorable performances in school history. He was named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
A native of Ankeny, Lanning’s overall season snap count is astounding (934 snaps: 765 on defense, 124 on special teams, 45 on offense).
Against No. 12 Oklahoma State, Lanning enhanced his status among Cyclone fans when he recorded five tackles, 0.5 sacks, a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown.
He is the first FBS player in 11 years to record a sack, interception, fumble recovery, rushing touchdown and passing touchdown in a season since Eric Weddle (Utah) did it in 2006.
Lanning, who ranks third on the team in rushing (115) and fourth in passing (47), was utilized by the Cyclone offense in crucial situations throughout the season. He was perfect in “money” down conversions, going 5-of-5 on third down and 4-of-4 on fourth down conversion rushes.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Lanning, who has accepted an invitation to compete in the East-West Shrine Game, will play his final game as a Cyclone in the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl vs. Memphis, Dec. 30 in Memphis, Tenn.