AMES — Greg Eisworth was a 4-star recruit out of high school. He chose to go to Ole Miss over Iowa, Oklahoma and Baylor.
At Ole Miss, Eisworth suffered an injury and he felt like the training staff at Ole Miss never properly treated his injury.
At the end of the season, Eisworth transferred to Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.
After a year Trinity Valley, he committed to Iowa State over offers from West Virginia, Colorado and Houston.
His commitment proved to a valuable one in 2018 for Coach Matt Campbell and Iowa State.
Iowa State had just lost all three of its starting safeties, including All-Big 12 safety Kamari Cotton-Moya.
Eisworth filled in and earned Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and first-team All-Big 12 honors. Eisworth led Iowa State in tackles with 84, including 54 solo tackles — nine more solo tackles than the next closest Cyclone. He also had two forced fumbles, which tied for the team lead.
He had three pass breakups, an interception and a sack in the pass game and Eisworth was able to impact the run game as well, recording four tackles for a loss for minus-19 yards.
“I had a good season,” Eisworth said. “I just did what the team needed me to.”
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Eisworth was remarkably consistent this season. He recorded at least four tackles in every game. Against Texas, he had nine solo tackles, three assisted tackles and a forced fumble.
Against West Virginia, Eisworth was integral to the Cyclones stone-walling then-Hiesman Trophy hopeful quarterback Will Grier. Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock dialed up safety blitz after safety blitz to rattle the senior quarterback.
Eisworth recorded one of Iowa State’s seven sacks that game and Grier finished with 100 yards passing, one touchdown, one interception and minus-33 yards rushing because of the sacks and pressure.
“I think the majority of it is mentally knowing your job and anticipation, knowing film,” Eisworth said after the game. “Then the rest of it is letting your athletic ability take over.”
From the moment the redshirt sophomore stepped on campus, he’s impressed Campbell.
“When your best players are your hardest workers and they’re the guys that are all working everybody else, sooner or later, everybody is going to try to catch up to those guys,” Campbell said. “That’s where Eisworth is at, that’s where Hakeem Butler is at, that’s where (David) Montgomery and all those guys really are. They’re doing that because of their work ethic.”
Even with all the awards and praise, Eisworth believes he has a lot to improve on.
He said he wants to get better in coverage and he wants to improve on his tackling form, which is probably a fair criticism of his game.
Eisworth tends to “check” opposing players instead of wrapping them up.
But he’s been of the most important pieces of Iowa State’s defense.
Even though the Iowa State offense can struggle to get going at times, the defense has always been able to keep the Cyclones in the game, led by Eisworth. Iowa State never lost a game by more than 14 points this season and the defense allowed just 22.5 points per game in the prolific Big 12 conference.
“You have people like Greg Eisworth who strain, strain and strain to get better,” Montgomery said. “You have people like (linebackers) Willie Harvey, Mike Rose stepping in early and taking care of business. I love my defense. I never worry about my defense. I worry about my offense before I worry about my defense. I have so much trust and faith in those guys. They can handle anything that’s thrown at them.”
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