The Cyclones opened preseason practice Aug. 4. To get you ready for the season, AllCyclones.com will be gauging the depth at every position on the roster. In this installment, we're looking at defensive end.
Projected Starters: RE Cory Morrissey, Sr., Iowa Western (JUCU), Gilbert; LE Mitchell Meyers, So., The Woodlands (TX) (SD)
Projected Backup: Gabe Luna, Jr., Butler (JUCO); Darius White, So., Palmetto (FL)
Other Players: Dale Pierson, Jr., Pasadena (JUCO); Trent Taylor, Jr., Butler (JUCO); Justin Madison, rFr., Tampa (FL); J.D. Waggoner, rFr., Dallas (TX);
The Leader: Cory Morrissey
Morrissey had a solid 2013, earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors after a 52 tackle, two-sack campaign, but he's well aware that "solid" won't cut it in 2014, where he'll have less help along the defensive line. The lack of a difference-maker at the other end spot and then in the interior means Morrissey will rarely have a clean, one-on-one combat en route to the backfield. For ISU's defense to rebound, Morrissey will need to show he's improved as a pass-rusher.
The Wildcard: Dale Pierson
The above predictions for the starters and backups mostly reflects how things will look Aug. 30 against North Dakota State, at which point Pierson and fellow JUCO transfer Trent Taylor won't have had enough time to unseat Mitchell Meyers.
Dale Pierson.The thinking goes, though, that eventually that'll take place. Pierson's got a lot of straight-line speed and is a natural pass-rusher who holds up against the run, too. He's working with Stan Eggen on adding a bevy of moves and tricks to his game.
The Future: Justin Madison
One Cyclones coach says the cerebral and polite Madison will be a congressman after his Iowa State career ends. Before then, Madison figures to get after the quarterback a lot. The Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year in 2013, Madison's a lean 6-foot-3, 218-pounder who the coaches decided was a better fit for end than linebacker, where he has just one direction to go: Straight at the QB.
After not signing any prep defensive ends (or linemen for that sake) in 2014, the Cyclones have commitments from Seth Nerness and Anthony Nelson in their 2015 class, which should close up shop on the quota for high school ends. Iowa State is looking to add JUCO defensive end Timmy Hamilton as well.