Notes: O-Line, Linebackers and More

As Iowa State enters the final weeks of spring ball, some players have emerged at their respective positions. Here's the latest on the offensive line, linebackers and running backs.

Shuffling the offensive line

As the search for a new center continues, Iowa State has a new leader in the race to replace four-year starter Tom Farniok.

“If we started today,” coach Paul Rhoads said after Iowa State’s latest scrimmage, “Jamison Lalk would be our starting center.”

Of course, the season doesn’t start today.

Nonetheless, the latest shift on the offensive line is an attention-grabber. Iowa State’s spring depth chart has JUCO transfer Patrick Scoggins at No. 1 with Lalk the starter at right guard. The latest one apparently has Lalk back at center.

“The biggest reason for that is the transition of snapping the ball,” Rhoads said. “Patrick was struggling with it a little bit, which we saw coming. That’s not easy. He’s been a guard. He snapped well today as far as accuracy of his snaps, but because of that and Jamison’s experience and working hard to get the best five right now, that’s what it would be right now, but it’s April 4.”

When Iowa State recruited Scoggins from Long Beach C.C. last fall, it talked with the 6-foot-1, 290-pound offensive lineman about trying center. Scoggins was a guard through two junior college seasons and hasn’t snapped since high school.

Through the first four weeks of spring ball, that has apparently shown.

“He’s got to settle down a little bit,” offensive coordinator Mark Mangino said. “He wants to go block the guy before he snaps the ball. That’s problematic. He’s everything we thought he’d be in terms of his blocking, his knee bend, his low center of gravity, his tenaciousness, it’s all there.”

Now, it’ll shown at guard.

While Lalk shifts from guard to center, Scoggins will get work at guard, where he is in the midst of a competitive battle. Rhoads said Oni Omoile is much improved and is currently battling with Wendell Taiese. He expects Daniel Burton, who is out this spring, to claim the other guard spot (likely on the right side).

Both Brock Dagel and Jake Campos are leading at the tackle positions as spring ball winds down. Iowa State will welcome JUCO tackle Jaypee Philbert this fall.

Clarity coming to linebacker group

As Jordan Harris becomes the linebacker Iowa State saw when it added him in the 2014 recruiting class, some clarity is finally coming over the linebacker group.

After Harris and recent JUCO transfer Jarnor Jones began the spring working with the second unit, both have emerged into starting roles as spring ball enters its final week. Harris is currently sitting atop the middle linebacker spot while Jones is at No. 1 at the nickel/SLB slot.

As for weakside linebacker?

“If Levi [Peters] was healthy right now he’d be our starting weakside linebacker and Brian Mills would be backing him up,” Wally Burnham revealed Saturday.

Peters is sitting out this spring after rupturing his Achilles last season, but has evidently made enough of a mark to be the clubhouse leader at the weakside position. The initial spring depth chart had Luke Knott followed by Mills.

One other name at running back

Iowa State’s depth at running back has been depleted this spring as Martinez Syria (jammed neck) has hit the shelf. The show has nonetheless gone on with Michael Warren and Tyler Brown taking the bulk of the spring snaps.

“I thought that was those two’s best day,” Rhoads said after the Cyclones’ latest scrimmage Saturday. “They ran north and south. They showed speed and bursts. They showed the ability after contact to push the pile a little bit and gain an extra yard. They hadn’t shown that in the last week’s time.”

The Cyclones will get a much-needed boost in depth this summer when 2015 class members Joshua Thomas and Sheldon Croney arrive as freshmen. Without that depth this spring, one other running back has emerged to get reps.

“Mitch Harger has gotten a lot of reps,” Mangino said, referencing the redshirt junior from Alburnett, Iowa. “Mitch Harger, he’s an overachiever. He’s a great kid to have on your team. He tries hard, he makes some runs. He’s not the fastest guy we have, but sometimes he’ll pick his way and he’ll put his pads down.

“I don’t know how many games he’s going to play in. He may, he may not. He may play a lot, he might not play at all. Who knows? But he’s a good guy to have on your team because he’s a guy that really cares about playing.”

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