2011 Spring Football Outlook: Defensive Line
Editor's note: This is the fifth of an eight-part series taking a
look at the Iowa State football team position by position heading into
practice. A review of the defensive line position is below. Click the
in the photo above to see an interview with head coach Paul Rhoads.
Links to other position breakdowns can be found at the bottom of the
Pre-Spring Defensive Line Depth Chart
91 **Patrick Neal, 6-0, 247, Sr.#
50 Willie Scott, 6-2, 215, So.#
31 Rony Nelson, 6-1, 235, Jr.#
90 *Cleyon Laing, 6-4, 282, Jr.#
94 *Jake McDonough, 6-5, 289, Jr.#
93 Aaron Moore, 6-3, 250 So.#
97 ***Stephen Ruempolhamer, 6-3, 288, Sr.
95 Walter Woods III, 6-0, 293, So.#
62 Brandon Jensen, 6-4, 280, Fr.#
38 **Roosevelt Maggitt, 6-1, 243, Jr.#
69 Nick Kron, 6-2, 242, Fr.
Perhaps more than any other quality possessed by Big 12 bowl teams is an ability to stop the run. That process starts in the defensive line and the Cyclones have returning starters to make further strides this season.
Patrick Neal has 16 career starts and made 29 tackles last season. Rhoads believes his senior season will be his best. Willie Scott has been in transition. Originally a linebacker, Scott has been transitioning to play with one hand on the ground at end. The Cyclone coaching staff is confident that further experience this spring and fall will make him a difference maker. Rony Nelson is a former junior college standout who was good enough to play last season. He redshirted 2010. A year of strength and conditioning will make him a better player this season.
Cleyon Laing got a real taste of action last season. The junior finished the season with 15 tackles, including four at Colorado. He also forced a fumble. He will compete with Jake McDonough, who made more steady strides last season. McDonough made 17 tackles, three for loss and recorded a sack. His recovery of a Texas fumble was a huge play in the Cyclones’ 28-21 victory in Austin. Aaron Moore has made the switch to the defensive line.
Stephen Ruempolhamer has played in 34 games and started all 12 contests at nose guard last season. As a junior last season, he made 33 tackles, six behind the line. He recorded 2 ½ sacks. Ruempolhamer will be the fulcrum on which the Iowa State defense will stand. Walter Woods III is healthy and ready to compete along with redshirt freshman Brandon Jensen.
Roosevelt Maggitt had 30 tackles last season and forced a pair of fumbles. If Iowa State is to be successful stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback, Maggitt will have to play a major role on the Cyclone line. Rhoads has high hopes for the future of freshman Nick Kron.
Rhoads on the defensive line:
“The inside on defense is an area where we need to continue to improve. We do have three guys with experience coming back in Jake McDonough, Cleyon Laing and senior Stephen Ruempolhamer. They need to stop the run more proficiently than we have in our first two seasons and also get pressure on the quarterback.
"We like to play eight guys on our defensive front, four tackles and four defensive ends and we’re looking for that fourth guy at the defensive tackle position. You’ve got Brandon Jensen from Ankeny coming off a redshirt year who I think can compete. Walter Woods, a young man who goes into his third season as a converted linebacker after a freshman knee surgery is getting back to full strength. I think he’s got a chance to challenge for that position. Aaron Moore has been moved from defensive end to defensive tackle and he’s got great footwork. We’ll see if he can hold up in that battle as he continues to gain weight and put himself in a position to really compete inside.”
“We’ve got great depth and experience coming back at defensive end. Roosevelt Maggitt was as productive a defensive end as we put on the field last year. He did it with limited snaps and now the challenge is can he do it with more snaps out there on the field? Patrick Neal comes back and I think he really has something to prove as he goes into his last season as a Cyclone. Rony Nelson comes off a redshirt season and everybody around our program is anxious to see what he can do. He’s had offseason surgery to remove a bone spur and we want to make sure we get him back healthy for spring ball. Nick Kron joins us now as a redshirt and I’m anxious to see him compete a little this spring as well. Willie Scott also adds to the depth at the defensive end position. He goes into his third year and has embraced the move. He was a linebacker outside guy who played a little bit of tight end in high school and Willie’s got great explosion and quickness. I hope his second spring and third fall experience will be demonstrated on the field.”