AMES — Iowa State running back David Montgomery is renowned for his work ethic and his ability and desire to never go down at first contact.
Montgomery finished last season with 1,198 rushing yards — 885 of which were yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus — 296 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
In 2018, Montgomery wants to focus on efficiency in every aspect.
Coach Matt Campbell has praised Montgomery’s work ethic and has credited him for being an early adapter to the culture change at ISU because of his work ethic. But over the summer, Montgomery employed the “work smarter, not harder” mantra. By the end of last season, Montgomery was dealing with some minor injuries, missing much of the Kansas State game. He wore himself down last season.
Don’t misunderstand it. When asked how many hours a week he put in at the football facility, Montgomery smiled and said, “A lot.”
“I don’t keep track of it,” Montgomery said. “This offseason, I wanted to focus more on my body. Last year I kind of beat myself up — I did a lot of extra work. I understand this year that I have to be a lot smarter. I chopped down on it, but I still got efficient work in.”
Montgomery said part of being smarter is recognizing defenses what defenses are and aren’t giving him. So instead of blasting through defensive players, like he did last season, he can avoid them and take fewer hits.
A big part of Montgomery taking less contact will be up to the offensive line as well. Iowa State returns four players who started last season, and Montgomery believes the experience up front will make a difference for him.
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“I’m very, very confident having those guys back — Julian (Good-Jones), (Josh) Knipfel, (Bryce) Meeker and (Sean) Foster — those guys,” Montgomery said. “It’s exciting. We have a young guy, Colin (Newell). To see the amount of work and time and effort they put in, in the offseason is second to none. I’m excited to see what those guys are getting ready to do.”
The feeling is mutual.
“It’s unreal (to block for Montgomery),” Meeker said. “He puts in work every day. He deserves the success that he gets and it’s awesome blocking for him because you never know if your block is going to be the block that sparks the big run. It’s awesome.”
While Montgomery will likely be the focus for opposing teams, he believes Iowa State has the talent surrounding him to keep the opposing defense honest and give him room to work.
“I know we have different weapons all over the field, whether it’s (receivers) Deshaunte Jones, Hakeem Butler or Matt Eaton,” Montgomery said. “Then you have (running backs) Mike Warren, Johnnie Lang, Kene Nwangwu and Sheldon Croney. For (opposing teams) to make me the main focal point would be difficult (for them) knowing the amount of weapons we have.”
Montgomery didn’t name the other four running backs by accident. Last season, Montgomery rushed 258 times. Montgomery and Campbell both hope the running back depth will help take some of the workload off of Montgomery’s shoulders.
“We have a very talented room and I’m excited for everyone to get the chance to play,” Montgomery said. “Personal accolades don’t really matter at all, I’m just really excited for this season.”
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