Freshman Adam Carper is holding his own

Heading into the season there were questions surrounding the SAM linebacker position. Will this spot be a weakness of the Cyclone defense? Can a redshirt freshman get the job done?

Two games into the season Adam Carper has put those questions to rest with his six tackles, interception and three pass break-ups. Carper was the first Cyclone to get his fingers on the ball LaMarcus Hicks returned for a touchdown in Iowa State's 23-3 win over Iowa.


"I saw [Jason] Manson was throwing my way and I didn't see the ball until late because the sun was in my eyes," Carper said. "I thought I had a chance at making the play. I had both hands on it and it got out but I saw LaMarcus pick it. It turned out for the best because I don't think I could return it for a touchdown."


The 19 year-old is the lone freshman starting on the ISU squad and said he doesn't really think about that when he's out on the field.


"You just feel like you belong out there if the coaches put you out there," Carper said. "So obviously you don't think about it so much."


Early on Carper said he's been holding his own, but he's still got a long ways to go.


"I have a lot of ways to improve," he said. "We came in [last] Sunday and watched film and you can tell by the tape I did some good things but I have some things to improve on. So I look at that as a challenge and will try to correct my mistakes for the rest of the season."


ISU head coach Dan McCarney said over the past two games Cyclones fans have been able to see what the coaching staff sees every day in practice.


"He's still got to get more physical," McCarney said. He's only got two games in his career so he's still real green and real young. But you can see on Saturday's what we see all the time – he's athletic, he can make plays, he can get his hand on balls, he can deflect balls, hopefully intercept some as the season goes on.


"He's a playmaker, he's coachable and he doesn't look one bit out of place even though he's the only freshman starting on this team."


The Clarinda native said if you would have asked him last September he didn't expect to be in the position he is now. At that time as a redshirt he was playing safety and trying to work his way up the depth chart.


"There's a lot of similarities and a lot of differences [between safety and linebacker]," he said. "It was a big adjustment because I had to react quicker. It's been a good move for me; I like the position."


Throughout the spring and pre-season Carper was battling with fellow redshirt freshman Nick Frere for the No. 1 SAM spot and there's no animosity between the two.


"He's my roommate, so we have no hatred towards one another," Carper said. "We try and help each other out as much as possible, because you never know who's going to play and what play. He might come in for me sometime, so we help each other out as much as possible asking questions."


After last seasons impressive defensive performance by the Cyclones, this season looks to equal or surpass last years feat.


"It's just fun coming to practice and playing games," Carper said. "Everyone who's out there just wants to play the game and that's what's so enjoyable about it. We just love to fly to the football."


One of these games Carper will get his hands on another ball and will be looking towards the endzone, just like he saw Hicks do against Iowa. So what will Carper be thinking when it happens?


"Oh gosh, it would just be something, especially doing it in a big game like it was when LaMarcus got his," Carper said. "I really have no idea. We'll have to wait and see what happens. Hopefully I'll get that chance."


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