AMES — The stoic and normally unflappable Kyle Kempt couldn’t wipe the grin off his face Friday when he met with the media.
Kempt was in the training room with receiver Hakeem Butler when he got a call from coach Matt Campbell. Campbell told Kempt on Jan. 30 that his request for a sixth year of eligibility had been granted. To top it off, Kempt will also be on scholarship.
“I started feeling good in January because a lot of things started coming together,” Kempt said.
“It feels great (to be on scholarship). It feels good to go from scholarship to walk-on and learn all of those lessons that I did, but to be back on it, I’m thankful for it.”
According to a press release from Iowa State, Campbell informed the team and recruits that Kempt had received the sixth year. So why wait to make it public?
“Distraction to the team, probably,” Kempt said. “Honestly it doesn’t really matter. We’re going for our workouts right now. It’s the offseason, so it’s not really a big deal, to be honest.”
At the same time, it kind of is a big deal. Kempt was all-Big 12 honorable mention, he upset No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., beat No. 4 TCU and led Iowa State to its first bowl win since 2009.
Iowa State also returns key playmakers in running back David Montgomery and receivers Butler and Deshaunte Jones.
Even with Kempt’s success and the promise next season shows, he knows he still has to improve in some areas.
“Staying alive in the pocket more, being more decisive with the football – there’s a lot of things I need to really take care of – red-zone offense – I could name a thousand things where I was not really happy with last season,” Kempt said.
“That’s how we need to be, though. The difference between us going 8-5 and coming back for another great year is not looking at what we did good last year, it’s looking at what we did bad and building off of that.”
That attention to detail could pay big dividends in a quarterback room that’ll include a redshirt sophomore, a redshirt freshman and two true freshman next season.
“As a leader, that’s the future of this team,” Kempt said. “It’s my role to show these guys how to come to work every day and how to handle being a quarterback.
“It’s such a unique position because you have to be the guy that’s always on time and the guy that’s always doing the right thing – the guy that’s always going to have credibility in that locker room because of your work ethic.
“It’s important because this is my last season and there’s a really bright future ahead for all those guys in there.”