Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State depth chart observations: Cyclones stacked at backup running back

4 players listed behind starter David Montgomery

Iowa State running back David Montgomery (32) pushes away from Iowa defensive back Manny Rugamba (5) during the second half of last year’s game in Ames. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa State running back David Montgomery (32) pushes away from Iowa defensive back Manny Rugamba (5) during the second half of last year’s game in Ames. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

AMES — Iowa State football released its first depth chart of the season on Monday. The depth chart was mostly as expected, but there were still some noteworthy observations.

Every running back who isn’t a true freshman is listed on the “two-deep.”

David Montgomery is the clear starter, but his backup is hotly contested. Redshirt senior Mike Warren, redshirt junior Sheldon Croney, redshirt sophomore Kene Nwangwu and redshirt freshman Johnnie Lang all are vying for the backup spot.

Up front, blocking for the stable of running backs, the battle for center likely will dictate how the rest of the line fills out. Cedar Rapids native Julian Good-Jones is the incumbent starting center, but head coach Matt Campbell has raved about his versatility along the line. Couple his versatility with redshirt freshman Colin Newell standing out during spring football, and Campbell has a solid position battle in the middle.

Campbell said he’s going to play his best five linemen, and they’ll figure out the positions later. He said Newell also can move to guard if he needs to, so it’s likely that whoever “loses” the center position battle, will move to guard.

On the outside, receiver Hakeem Butler appears to be moving from his inside slot position he manned last season to the outside “x” position. Butler was the second leading receiver last season for the Cyclones, recording 41 receptions for 697 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Moving the big 6-foot-6 target to the outside has a small risk factor because the route tree is a little different and he had a lot of success last season from the slot. In the spring, Campbell said they would try Butler from both the slot and the outside to see where he fit best.

Replacing Butler in the slot is another big target in 6-foot-4 Matt Eaton. His backup is Cedar Rapids speedster Landen Ackers.

On the other side of the ball, redshirt freshman O’Rien Vance is listed as the starting middle linebacker. Early in the spring, linebackers coach Tyson Viedt said the spot was completely up for grabs, but Vance seems to have separated himself throughout the spring and summer.

Behind him, Iowa State also graduated both of its safeties. Lawrence White and former Mississippi transfer Greg Eisworth have put themselves in position to start against South Dakota State.

It appears Iowa State will have a young team next season with 15 seniors, 15 juniors, 16 sophomores and 13 freshmen listed on the two-deep.

Watch lists

Preseason accolades for running back David Montgomery and cornerback Brian Peavy keep rolling in.

Montgomery was named to the Maxwell Award watch list and Peavy was named to the Bednarik Award watch list. The Maxwell is given to the best offensive player and the Bednarik is given to the best defensive player.

Both players were named to the preseason all-Big 12 team last week and several preseason All-America teams.

Montgomery rushed for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He also had six 100-yard rushing games.

Peavy is the NCAA’s active leader in passes defended with 35 — 30 of those are pass breakups and the other five are interceptions.

Peavy also is Iowa State’s active team leader in tackles with 232.

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