Eggen Making His Mark On ISU's Defensive Ends
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His arrival to Iowa State was one of those difficult times. Eggen was put into a precarious situation when he replaced the ever-popular Curtis Bray, who died suddenly on Jan. 15 from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 43, as the Cyclone defensive ends coach.
Bray was an inaugural member of head coach Paul Rhoads’ first coaching staff, helping the Cyclones to three bowl games in five seasons. Bray was beloved by his players and co-workers.
Eggen remembers the first meeting he had with his Cyclone defensive ends.
“It was a very emotional meeting,” Eggen said. “The players handled it extremely well. You learn how to lean on one another and continue to grow. It is all a part the “Family” atmosphere that Coach Rhoads preaches and talks about every day.”
“As a coach you handle a lot of unique situations,” Eggen added. “Obviously, this was very unique for me and something that I had not experienced. I think if you are honest and up-front, and you let them talk about it, you then realize you all want the same thing. And that is to continue to build and to become better.”
Bray’s imprint on the defensive ends hasn’t gone unnoticed by Eggen.
“Coach Bray had done such a fantastic job, so I am not changing anything,” Eggen said. “I am going to continue to build, but yet I have to do it with my personality and I think the players made it easier for me because they bought into that. They realized there is a lot for them to play for and I think they are feeding off of that.”
Eggen has talent to work with, and senior Cory Morrissey is one of them.
Morrissey, an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick in 2013, will be a leader for the Cyclone defense. The Ames, Iowa native started 11 of 12 games last year, leading all Cyclone down linemen with 52 tackles. He was also second on the team in tackles for loss at 6.5.
Eggen has a hunch more great things are in store for Morrissey in 2014.
“Cory understands what has to be done,” Eggen said.
Eggen also has been watching the progress of sophomore Mitchell Meyers. A native of The Woodlands, Texas, Meyers played in all 12 games a year ago, tallying 14 tackles. There is potential for Meyers to breakout in 2014 after a year under his belt.
“Mitchell is learning how to step it up,” Eggen said. “It’s a big difference from being a rotation guy to that guy. There is a lot more responsibility, and he understands that and it will take time. It is a learning process for all of them.”
Other ends to watch for in the spring game (April 12) are J.D. Waggoner (6-2, 247, Fr.#, Dallas, Texas) and Gabe Luna (6-1, 255, Jr. Garden City, Kan.). Waggoner is coming off a redshirt and Luna is a mid-year enrollee from Butler C.C. (Kansas).
“Gabe gives us great effort,” Eggen said. “He is very conscientious and he wants to do things right. I think he will be a valuable player for us.”