The much-anticipated first depth chart has been released, so let the speculating and deep diving begin as the start of fall camp draws closer.
What should you know? Well, here’s the important stuff.
First, who’s missing?
Any closer look at the depth chart must start here, because the depth chart released Monday is not the one that will be unveiled leading up to Iowa State’s season opener against Northern Iowa on Sept. 3. That’s because there are impact players missing.
The first depth chart of the Matt Campbell era is a ‘summer’ one, meaning many players who arrived after spring ball — true freshmen, JUCOs and transfers — aren’t included. There are a few exceptions who made the list including quarterback Jacob Park, long snapper Steve Wirtel, center Brian Bobek and safety Evrett Edwards, but there are many other impact players missing.
First, there are the JUCOs and transfers. The offensive line depth with certainly be bolstered by summer arrival Oge Udeogu, who should help at guard; late summer addition Justin Stewart will quickly join Gabe Luna and Mitchell Meyers competing for the starting Leo gig; and receiver Marchie Murdock will be capable of playing the ‘M’ or outside.
Then, the true freshmen. It’s too early to tell which true freshmen might have a shot to play immediately in 2016, which is why Wirtel is the only one listed. But he almost certainly won’t be the only one to burn his redshirt. There’s a good chance tight end Chase Allen could join Justin Chandler and Cliff Fernandez at tight end; David Montgomery appears very likely to get touches at running back; Tymar Sutton already has good size at linebacker; and you never know if a receiver like Jalen Martin or Deshaunte Jones could emerge.
What are the position battles?
There will be plenty of battles when fall camp arrives between some of the newcomers above (especially Udeogu, Stewart, Murdock), but the first depth chart explicitly calls attention to five and they’re almost all for second-string spots.
JUCO quarterback Jacob Park and true freshman Zeb Noland will battle for the No. 2 spot behind starter Joel Lanning. At running back it’s Mitchell Harger OR Sheldon Croney, but expect David Montgomery to work his way into the conversation. Dondre Daley and Carson Epps will battle for the ‘Z’ receiver spot. Bryce Meeker and Minnesota transfer Brian Bobek will compete for the No. 2 spot at center, though a healthy Bobek could move his way higher. Gabe Luna and Mitchell Meyers will battle for the Leo spot, but Justin Stewart will add his name to that competition for fall camp.
It’s worth noting…
- There is one clear omission on a depth chart that is mostly a two-deep early on, and that’s interior defensive lineman Bobby Leath. He ended last season No. 3 on the depth chart at the right DE spot and is likely No. 3 at an interior spot.
- The one solidified piece of the offensive line, Jake Campos, is at right tackle. Most likely, this is because Jaypee Philbert has been more strictly a left tackle. There were times last season when Campos shifted to the right with Philbert in the game.
- What are those new spots? There are 12 positions listed on defense and offense. The extra spots are these: The ‘F’ position will draw from the tight end and will act as a fullback/H-back who can add a blocker in the backfield; on defense, the Leo/SAM linebacker are an interchangeable part of the 4-2-5 defensive scheme.
- You can see the depth Matt Campbell and Co. built into the defensive backfield on the two-deep. Redshirt freshman Mike Johnson is No. 1 at safety opposite Kamari Cotton-Moya after a strong spring, but Duke transfer Evrett Edwards will push him immediately in fall camp. That’s one of a few examples.