"Tim Dobbins is definitely going to be our starting MIKE linebacker, and Brandon Brown will move to WILL," said McCarney. "Erik Anderson is our starter at SAM, then we're working Nick Frere and Boyd Viers. Those are the top three outside."
The fact that Jackson held on to earn a first-team spot may come as a bit of a surprise, figuring ISU signed JUCO cornerbacks Josh Hargis and LaMarcus Hicks. But the arrival of two veteran competitors served as motivation for Jackson, who played mostly a reserve role in his freshman year of 2003.
"DeAndre Jackson has grabbed that number one out there and run with it," the Cyclones' head coach said. "He's clearly the starter at that corner position, and we'll have to see if he can hold onto it the next couple weeks."
ISU's defensive line remains the same, as Tyson Smith has returned to his role at rush end. Cephus Johnson has a firm hold on his job at strong-side defensive end, while Nick Leaders and Brent Curvey anchor the middle.
Offensively, the biggest news to come out of Thursday's workouts deals with senior receiver Andy Kohler. The Ames native injured his right knee Wednesday and was wearing a full leg brace Thursday afternoon. Kohler missed much of the 2003 football season after a serious left knee injury.
"We're waiting to hear on his injury right now, so he missed practice," McCarney said. "It could be serious and we're really sorry to hear that. The doctors are reviewing it. If he didn't have any bad luck he wouldn't have any luck at all."
McCarney shared some more news on offensive skill positions. Freshman tailbacks Jason Scales and Greg Coleman now appear on the same line behind starter Stevie Hicks. ISU's backup for UNI could be settled after one more scrimmage.
"They're both twos and we'll see what happens in Saturday's scrimmage," McCarney said. "Stevie is our starter for Northern Iowa, and Coleman and Scales are our next two right now. Those other kids are all working hard right now at running back, but either Coleman or Scales will be our backup."
At fullback, McCarney announced that freshman Tony Johnson will play this season. That means he will have to use one of the 85 scholarships allotted to the Cyclones. However, that issue is not much of a concern since one scholarship freshman -- Mack Kimble -- did not qualify.
Johnson's emergence makes the fullback job a two-man race.
"It's a real good battle between Kock, Tony Johnson, and Kyle Smith," McCarney said. "Kock and Johnson have the edge right now to be our top two fullbacks, but Kyle improved in the spring and he's getting better."
The Cyclones return to the field twice on Friday, but much of the work done will be in preparation for Saturday's big scrimmage, the final one before they break camp on Sunday.
"We're getting a better feel every day, particularly after the scrimmages, of who our best players are and who we think has the best chance to play," McCarney said. "We're going to have a good padded practice tomorrow morning, shorts tomorrow afternoon, and then finish with a real good scrimmage in the stadium on Saturday. A lot right now is getting ready for Saturday. We want to treat that like a game and a game-type atmosphere."