CN Spring Cleaning: Ends & Outside Linebackers

The seventh in a series of football position progress reports on CycloneNation.com features the defensive ends and outside linebackers, where Jason Berryman continued to excel as the starting rush end this spring.

Pre-Fall Depth Chart:

RE Jason Berryman, 6-1, 225, SO
Shawn Moorehead, 6-3, 230, SO
Nick Howe, 6-3, 225, R-FR

DE Cephus Johnson, 6-2, 250, R-JR
Korey Smith, 6-5, 240, R-SO
Nick Davidson, 6-2, 260, R-FR
Rashaad Rasberry, 6-4, 250, R-JR
Bryce Braaksma, 6-3, 230, R-FR

SLB Erik Anderson, 6-1, 225, SR
Dominique Flower, 6-1, 210, R-FR
Kurtis Taylor, 6-2, 225, FR
Marc Soltis, 6-2, 230, R-SO
Chip Smith, 6-2, 210, R-FR

Newcomers:

Collins Eboh, 6-2, 240, FR, Roosevelt HS
Travis Ferguson, 6-4, 230, FR, Waterloo East HS

Spring evaluation:

Just as he did last season, Berryman wreaked havoc on the offense and was the Cyclones' best defensive player this spring. The true sophomore showed up on tape nearly every practice and drew praise from defensive coaches for his consistency. He put his prowess on display in the spring game, recording seven tackles and 2.5 stops for loss to go along with a pair of sacks.

What's next for Berryman, the team's defensive MVP in 2003? He would like to add some more weight to his 225-pound frame. If he does, watch out.

Although Berryman won't be coming off the field very much, coaches feel better about the depth behind him. Moorehead was one of this spring's pleasant surprise and has given defensive coordinator John Skladany the confidence to give Berryman a breather with the first team.

The theme's becoming repetitive with Johnson, who will be entering his fourth season as a Cyclone. The 250-pounder put together a great spring opposite Berryman at defensive end. But he's also shown flashes over the past two seasons, only to be pushed to the wayside when the lights come on in the fall. But coaches say Johnson is finally starting to ‘get it,' and his consistency has come around. Again, we'll see how that translates to the fall.

If Johnson were to falter, the Cyclones could have the depth to avoid moving Brent Curvey from his nose guard post. Smith had his moments this spring, and Davidson, after being forgotten as a freshman, was a pleasant surprise as a redshirt freshman.

Despite the move of talented youngster Flower to SAM linebacker, the veteran Anderson was able to hold onto his starting job. He's often overlooked when talking about ISU's defense, but Anderson's experience will make him a valuable cog on Skladany's unit.

But Anderson will need to stay on top of his game, because Flower was charging hard at the end of spring. The redshirt freshman battled an array of minor injuries, but found his way back in the closing few weeks, and recorded a White team-high six tackles and two pass breakups in the final scrimmage. The bottom line: If healthy, it will be difficult to keep Flower off the field.

Fall outlook:

Berryman is poised for another banner season at ISU, and could soon develop into the best defensive player every to don a Cyclone uniform. Moorehead's emergence will give coaches the ability to give Berryman a rest, but it won't be a long one.

Johnson will need his spring play to carry into the fall, unlike in past seasons. Smith may be listed as the backup at defensive end, but look out for Davidson, who will continue to show improvement as a redshirt freshman.

Assuming Flower can stay out of the training room, coaches may go to a platoon system at SAM linebacker. Anderson and Flower seem to complement each other well on the outside of the defense, and keeping both fresh could pay dividends in the second half of games.


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