Preseason Picture: MLB

The battle for the starting MIKE spot took a surprising twist this offseason, with Alton Meeks surging ahead of some more experienced 'backers. The Cyclones love Meeks' potential and his versatility, which will allow other middle 'backers the chance to play

The Cyclones kick off their year Aug. 30. To get you ready for the season, will be gauging the depth at every position on the roster. In this installment, we're looking at middle linebacker.

Projected Starter: Alton Meeks, rFr., Orlando (FL)

Projected Backup: Kane Seeley, So., Perry

Other Players: Jordan Harris, Jr., Copiah-Lincoln JUCO (MS); Willie Harvey, Fr., Hastings (FL)

The Leader: Alton Meeks

The Cyclones love the idea of Meeks becoming a four-year monster in the middle. He already looks like A.J. Klein; can he eventually play like him? A high school quarterback, Meeks' only defensive experience before arriving to Ames in the winter of 2013 was on seek-and-destroy missions in high school. He's slowly picked up the nuances of MIKE 'backer. Meeks' versatility will allow him, in Iowa State's base defense, to slide to SAM 'backer, opening the door for Seeley, Harris or Jevohn Miller (the starting WILL) to slide into the middle spot. There are several combinations Iowa State will turn to at linebacker this year, Meeks' ability to play multiple spots allowing Wally Burnham the luxury.

The Wildcard: Jordan Harris

There's bound to be some disappointment on the part of Harris, who signed with Iowa State in December and expected to have a clear path to the starting spot. Jeremiah George had departed, and there was really nobody else — Seeley hadn't played much in 2013 and Meeks was an unknown, albeit a promising one. Harris probably figures to be the No. 3 middle linebacker in the season-opener against NDSU. He's a hard-hitter and gobbles up tackles, but Iowa State doesn't trust his playbook retention to put Harris on the field for 60 snaps a game. The guessing goes that once Harris figures things out, Iowa State will have a tough time not finding a permanent spot for him. But until then, he's No. 3 on the depth chart.

The Future: Alton Meeks

Meeks will start his first career game Saturday. Iowa State is hoping it's one of about 50.


The only true MIKE Iowa State signed in 2014 was Harris, but the Cyclones did take a late flyer on Willie Harvey, who'll play either WILL or MIKE, depending on the results of the weight room in this offseason. If Harvey gains a large amount of weight (he's already at 213), he'll probably stick at middle linebacker. The Cyclones don't have any middle 'backer commits in 2015.

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