Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State 2020 position preview: A lot to replace on offensive line

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell (left) and offensive lineman Colin Newell run drills before a game against Oklahoma
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell (left) and offensive lineman Colin Newell run drills before a game against Oklahoma in 2018. Newell, who missed most of the 2019, could be a needed leader along the offensive line in 2020. (Associated Press)

AMES — Iowa State’s offensive line pieces haven’t changed much over the last two seasons.

There was Julian Good-Jones, Bryce Meeker, Josh Knipfel and Collin Olson, giving the Cyclones a veteran presence and a sense of consistency last season.

All have graduated and now head coach Matt Campbell and offensive line coach Jeff Myers are left with the task of forming a new line after losing 146 combined starts.

Trevor Downing and center Colin Newell return, but Newell missed almost all of last season after injuring his knee in the first game against Northern Iowa.

Downing replaced Newell and Olson moved inside to center, putting Downing at left guard. Campbell said throughout the season that Downing played the best of any offensive lineman.

He’ll be relied upon to be a key piece on the 2020 offensive line, along with Newell.

“I thought Trevor, a year ago, was bar none the best lineman to play for Iowa State,” Campbell said. “From how he graded out, the consistency of football he played and the tenacity he played with. All those things matched the expectation of what an offensive lineman at this school should look like.

“Then, Colin Newell in 2018, really brought that same consistency with the offensive line. I think having foundational leaders back is exciting for all of us. Now we need to fill in the pieces around them.”

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For two years now, Campbell has talked about how the backups have been pushing the starters in practice. Now, it’s the backups’ turn to see what they can do.

Joey Ramos, who will be a redshirt sophomore next year, opened eyes while backing up Good-Jones.

Good-Jones actually said last season that Ramos is among the most talented linemen he’s seen.

“I, on a daily basis, learn from Joey,” Good-Jones said last season. “He helps me a lot with my hand positioning. You see the raw talent in guys like Rob Hudson and ‘Strong Joey.’”

Hudson, who will be a junior next season, will likely take over somewhere on the right side of the offensive line at right guard or right tackle. He backed up Knipfel last season at right guard, but at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, he’s a candidate to go outside if that’s a better fit.

If Hudson stays inside, redshirt freshman Grant Treiber is a candidate to compete and win a tackle spot. From the moment the Sioux Falls, S.D., native stepped on campus, he’s done nothing but impress the coaching staff.

“There are some super talented young guys,” Campbell said. “I think Grant Treiber is being highly talked about around here right now. He has high-end ability.”

Freshmen Jarrod Hufford, Darrell Simmons and Jake Remsberg also have impressed Campbell and his staff and are expected to compete for spots.

On the other end of the spectrum, Campbell called senior Sean Foster a wild card. Foster is a behemoth at 6-8 and 310 pounds and has started seven games for Iowa State — six his freshman season. He only saw action in one game last year.

If Foster can put it together and use his size correctly, he’s a viable option to win the right tackle battle.

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“He’s a guy that has played football for us and is going into his senior year,” Campbell said. “When your seniors can play their best football, then good things can happen for your team.

“A lot of guys are fighting for a lot of opportunities. I’m excited to watch that battle. There are a lot of names to talk about and we will see how it all sorts out.”

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