5 players, 2 unclaimed spots

Last year it was Kory Pence who emerged and became a force on the ISU offensive line; this season the Cyclones are looking for two players to rise to the occasion much like Pence did.

"I think Kory is the ultimate blue collar guy," said offensive line coach Barney Cotton. "He brings his lunch bucket to work every day. When I first got here he was a guy that everybody thought could help us on extra point and field goal protection or something like that. Through playing both right and left guard that first spring it became apparent he was ready to make a big jump and contribute to the team."

 

Pence earned team offensive co-MVP honors for his performance against Kansas State, that effort included a great block that helped running back Stevie Hicks for a go-ahead 20-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

 

"I try to improve my game everyday," Pence said. "It just really helps that we have a lot of competition on this team and Coach Mac gives guys an opportunity to earn spots if you work hard every day. I tried to do my best, work hard and earn my spot and I did that."

 

Heading into two-a-days only three players have secured their spots on the line – juniors Aaron Brant and Seth Zehr and senior Pence. That means there's lots of competition for the remaining two spots.

 

Throughout the spring and summer Fabian Dodd has laid claim to the right guard position, while Johannes Egbers has been holding down left tackle.

 

Paul and Scott Fisher and Scott Stephenson will also push for playing time.

 

"We got a couple guys from junior college and a couple guys like me who transferred in and played offensive line," Dodd said. "We have a little more depth this year. So I think competition wise it's harder this year than it was last year."

 

Cotton said over the spring the coaching staff got a good chance to evaluate some of the newcomers and to see how much the line has progressed.

 

"I think in spring ball we were much better at the end of four weeks than we were the beginning," Cotton said. "It was good to get Scott Stephenson out there for about three or four practices doing some running game situation. He proved he's a very physical guy and he [can play the] center spot which will allow us to use Seth Zehr's versatility."

 

Being a four-year veteran of the ISU football program, Pence said he can sense a vibe that the program hasn't had before.

 

"Coming off my sophomore year the team chemistry wasn't as good as it now," Pence said. "Coming off last year the guys really got a taste of winning and that feeling and I think that's going to carry over to this year. I'm looking forward to that. We got a lot of guys coming back from last year. We still have a young team which is good but a lot of the young guys got to play last year."

 


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