WATERLOO — Matt Campbell’s Iowa State football team has sky-high expectations.
And he feels like he’s assembled the type of team that can handle them.
The Cyclones, coming off back-to-back bowl trips and led by returning quarterback Brock Purdy, are expected to start this season ranked nationally in the top 25.
Campbell talked about the expectations and keeping it all in the proper perspective during the Cyclone Tailgate Tour stop at the National Cattle Congress grounds Wednesday night.
“We have great leadership and a veteran group of seniors who know what it takes,” Campbell said. “Our guys understand where we’ve been and what we’ve done, but they also understand where we’ve fallen short. We’re not a finished product and there is still a lot of work for this program to do.”
The Waterloo stop was the last on a tour this month by ISU coaches and athletes that hit all corners of the state, from Council Bluffs to the Quad Cities and many points in between.
Campbell was joined in Waterloo by ISU men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm and Cyclone women’s coach Bill Fennelly. They were greeted by a huge crowd of ISU fans Wednesday.
The Cyclones have one of the best young football coaches in the country in Campbell, who has ISU looking like a team that could make another big splash in the Big 12.
Campbell was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in two of his first three seasons at Iowa State. Now he hopes to take his team to an even higher level in his fourth season.
ISU did lose a pair of star players – running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Hakeem Butler – who were taken in the NFL draft.
“Those guys obviously will be hard to replace and you can’t do it with just one person,” Campbell said. “But our collective group at those positions is as good as we’ve had in a long time. It will be fun to watch the guys we have at those positions. We have some great competition going on for playing time at those spots.”
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The Cyclones do return a strong nucleus along with a number of top newcomers for the upcoming season.
One of those veterans is Purdy, who took over as the starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season and compiled a 7-2 record as a freshman. Purdy passed for 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading his team to the Alamo Bowl.
“Brock continued to grow and develop last season, and he did a great job for us,” Campbell said. “I’m really excited to watch his development from Year 1 to Year 2. He’s grown a lot already. I’m just really proud of what that young man stands for.”
MEN’S BASKETBALL: Prohm’s team won the Big 12 tournament title in March, but will have to reload after losing star players Lindell Wigginton, Marial Shayok and Talen Horton-Tucker. Wiggington and Horton-Tucker departed early to pursue their dreams of playing professionally.
“We obviously lost a lot of top guys and we have a lot of new guys coming in,” Prohm said. “We signed three guys early and two guys in the spring. They will have some opportunities to make an impact for us.”
WRESTLING: The ISU wrestling program made a major jump this past season under second-year coach Kevin Dresser, finishing second in the Big 12.
Past Cyclone NCAA champion Kyven Gadson, a Waterloo native, represented the ISU wrestling program Wednesday night. He continues to train in Ames while pursuing a spot on the 2020 Olympic team.
“It’s a beautiful time to be a Cyclone,” Gadson said. “Iowa State is doing really well in a lot of sports and obviously the wrestling program is heading in the right direction. We just have to build on that and keep improving.”
The annual Cyclone tour stop in Waterloo is one the coaches look forward to.
“It’s great to see all the fans who always come out to support us,” Prohm said. “It means a lot to us and it gives us a chance to interact with them on a personal level. We really enjoy it.”