AMES — At the beginning of the season, Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt was supposed to be a coach on the field.
He was entering his sixth year as a collegiate quarterback and helped lead Iowa State to an 8-5 season the year before, capping it off with a Liberty Bowl win over Memphis.
He already graduated and was working on his second degree, where he only needed one more class. He spent most of his time in the Bergstrom Football Complex studying film and joining coaches in meetings, setting up game plans and scheming different plays.
Kempt was supposed to be on the field, playing and coaching.
But he got hurt in Iowa State’s game at Iowa and he’s been sidelined ever since. Now, true freshman Brock Purdy has taken over his job.
What’s Kempt doing? Coaching.
“To me, what the great coaches have the ability to do is empower people around them,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “Kyle, you’ve seen him do that in what — for any of us — would be a really hard situation. A situation where you’re the starting quarterback, coming back for a sixth year, and all of the sudden you get injured and you’re not the starting quarterback anymore. That’s hard. And yet, he’s put all of his time into helping everybody around him become better.
“That’s the story of our football program right now. It’s the greatest, most powerful story we have to tell is what that young man has done as the captain of the football team and the courage that he’s shown to empower those around him and make everybody else around him better.”
While Kempt was out with his injury, he wore the same attire the coaches did — a polo and khaki pants — and donned a headset. He looked like a coach and he looked at home.
After every offensive series, he pulled Zeb Noland or Purdy to the side — whoever was the quarterback at the time — to go over what he saw and what they could to do improve for the next series.
Sometimes Kempt would bring over the receivers, too.
“He gives us ideas as to what we should be doing on the field,” receiver Deshaunte Jones said. “Even in practice, he’s always coming up to us and making sure everything is OK.”
Kempt isn’t 100 percent health-wise, but Campbell said he would practice this week.
Even still, he’s helping the other quarterbacks.
“Kyle’s a very selfless person,” running back David Montgomery said. “He puts everyone before himself and he still prepares like he’s the starter, which is cool. You go a lot of places, and you don’t see people doing that.
“To be able to have that guy with that kind of attitude is amazing. You don’t get that often.”
Kempt obviously isn’t an official coach, but after the season, Campbell would love to make him one.
“In terms of Kyle and his future, I don’t know if anybody is more fit to coach than what Kyle is,” Campbell said. “Not just the Xs and Os, I really think the character of what he embodies.
“If a guy like that wants to get into coaching and a guy like that has an ambition to do it, I can only imagine — instead of empowering two guys to be really successful — I can only imagine what he could do with 105 football players at some point in his career. I hope he makes that decision. We’ve talked a little bit about that with his future. I would certainly love it if he did do that.”
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