Preseason FB Camp Report 8/16/04

<B>AMES, IA --</B> The pre-training camp suspension of 2003 freshman sensation Jason Berryman set the Iowa State defensive line back in a number of ways, but that hasn't deterred a focused group of returnees that are putting it all together at the right time. Nick Leaders, Brent Curvey, and Nick Leaders are out to prove that the D-line can still be a strength of this team.

"Curvey and Leaders are having outstanding camps," said head coach Dan McCarney. "We're more stout mainly because those two guys are more stout than they were at any time last year. They're really playing good football. The heart of any run defense starts with those guys inside – the MIKE linebacker, two interior defensive linemen, and safeties. Those guys have got to be physical, stout guys. Cephus Johnson seems to be playing better right now than he did last year or last spring, so that's good to see.

But many Cyclone fans are still left wondering what defensive coaches will do with the rush defensive end position left in limbo since Berryman's arrest. Shawn Moorehead and Korey Smith were two players expected to compete for a first-team job, but their inexperience leads to some uncertainty.

That's when Tyson Smith comes into the equation. The fifth-year senior had been moved to WILL linebacker full time heading into camp, but McCarney said on Monday that Smith is getting some consideration at his former spot.

"We're using Moorehead, Korey Smith, and Tyson Smith is getting a look in some situations, because he's played there at WILL and rush," McCarney said. "We're crazy if we don't take advantage of his pass rush abilities."

Two dark horses for playing time at either of the defensive end positions are rookies Collins Eboh and Travis Ferguson.

"We're taking a look at Eboh and Fergie both at end and rush," McCarney said, "but Collins is a little ahead of Ferguson right now. If Collins keeps coming on he's going to be a guy that's hard to redshirt this year. He's really done a nice job.

"He's 238 pounds and is still a little light, but he's really got a motor and I've been impressed with him early. For people on the outside, most recruiting services didn't even know who the kid was. But he'll leave his name here on the Iowa State program over the next few years. He's got one speed and it's a fast speed."

Fellow newcomer Terrance Highsmith spent much of his first week jockeying between quarterback and wide receiver. But McCarney is happy to report that the former North Carolina signee and Fort Scott (Kan.) transfer may be settling into one position.

"He's spending most of his time at wide receiver now and getting better each day," McCarney said. "He's a playmaker that we've got to get the ball to, one way or another. We haven't completely ruled him out at quarterback, but we don't want to juggle him back and forth every day.

"He's a much better receiver than blocker right now, which is to be expected. He played quarterback and isn't going to come out there and be dominating, physical blockers. But he really has skills catching the ball, and has a lot of speed and athleticism. We're looking at him on punt returns, kick returns, and receiver right now."

The Cyclones, who went through their second two-a-day workout of the season Monday, continue preseason preparations Tuesday. This figures to be a big week for players involved in key position battles, as scrimmages are scheduled for Wednesday and Saturday.

"We have two big scrimmages this week, and when we get through with them we'll have a majority of our decisions made," McCarney said. "We'll still have two weeks until kickoff, but a lot of it's going to be done by then. By the end of this week we'll have a much better grasp on which of the newcomers are going to play, which of the newcomers we're going to hold, and who's going to be number one."

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