AMES - It's a scene seen so often in film it never is not funny.

The one where a Army sergeant or the athletic coach asks for volunteer for some unseemly job and everybody takes a step backward except for the one aloof individual caught standing in place.

But when that scene has unfolded on the Iowa State football practice field numerous times over the last four seasons, Cyclone senior defensive end Patrick Neal has never taken a step back nor has he got caught standing still.

Instead, the West Des Moines native, has done the exact opposite ... he's stepped forward.

Since arriving in Ames five years ago, Neal has played four different positions.

He started off as a fullback catching two passes, one for a touchdown during the 2008 season. Neal was switched to linebacker in 2009 and started the last nine games of the Cyclones run to the Insight Bowl.

A year ago, he moved to defensive end where he appeared in all 11 games, including seven starts for ISU.

"It's been interesting," the 6-foot, 250-pound Neal said.

Neal's volunteering journey didn't stop with his move to defensive end where he was a tad undersized a year ago at 227. With the Cyclones depth at defensive tackle thin for their season opener against Northern Iowa this season, Neal played 60 plus snaps at tackle against the Panthers.

But its at end where Neal has began to emerge as a valuable pass rusher for Iowa State (3-2 overall and 0-2 in the Big 12). Neal has recorded 19 tackles to date, 2 1/2 for loss, forced a fumble and is tied for the team lead in quarterback hurries.

It was his sack of Texas quarterback Case McCoy two weeks ago that epitomized what Cyclone head coach Paul Rhoads says needs to happen for ISU's program to continue to take steps forward.

"Development is a word I use over and over and over again," Rhoads said. "I'll never say I overuse it because it is so important to what we do at Iowa State.

"When Patrick was able to settle into the new position (defensive end) and work on his strength and development and work on the necessary skills to play defensive end, the light started to go on.

"There were glimpses of it last year, more so in the spring and right now you're really seeing it."

Against Texas, it appeared as if Neal was pushed out of the play. However, his non-stop motor never shut off and he kept going eventually leveling McCoy to the ground.

"The sack he made (against Texas) ... it was picture perfect," Rhoads said. "He got up the field. He got on the edge. He got his hips turned. He got around a guy and then he finished."

For Neal, a Cyclone legacy, he's just happy to be on the field contributing for the Cyclones.

"My job each week is to get better and stay focused on the next opponent," said Neal whose father, Brian, played football and wrestle for Iowa State and whose brother, John, played basketball for the Cyclones.

As for what he's accomplished in his career, Neal says he hasn't really thought much about it.

"It's such a fast-paced atmosphere and you don't get a lot of time to reflect," Neal said. "I'm sure I'll reflect a lot more on it when the season is over and realize my career is done here at Iowa State.

"Right now I'm just focused on each week and the next opponent."

The focus this week has been Missouri and Tiger quarterback James Franklin whom Neal and the Cyclones want to stop in a 1 p.m. kickoff in Columbia, Mo., Saturday.

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