Young Backs Make Impression During Spring
Nealy carried the ball nine times for 28 yards in the 2012 Cyclone Gridiron Club-Iowa State Spring Game on April 14, while Standard had five carries for 18 yards. Nealy also hauled in one catch for ten yards.
"Both DeVondrick and Rob made the most of their opportunities this past spring.” Said Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads, “They will be contributors this fall, no doubt about it. Their styles are different, Devondrick tries to make you miss and Rob is more of the north-south type of player. I have confidence in both of them."
Standard, a St. Louis, Mo. native, said that the team's 15 spring practices made him feel comfortable in the Cyclones' offensive system.
"I've been learning a lot from the coaches and the older players. They've been teaching me about our offense," Standard said. "They haven't been teaching me the plays as much as they have taught me the concept of it. They really just took me under their wings."
Standard said that the running backs aren't looking at the position as if there is a going to be battle for carries this fall. Instead they see themselves as unit, which is trying to get better as a whole, rather than individual competing for carries.
"I've really just been paying attention to the older guys and seeing what they do during a play and how they read a play," Standard said. "Before spring ball came, I was in the film room for about two weeks with (Jeff Woody) and (Tyler Leo) and they were teaching me the offense."
Nealy, who was named the Cyclones' scout team offensive player of the year in 2011, said that the importance of those 15 spring practices cannot be understated.
"Practicing with perfection now will win us games in the season," Nealy said. "It's a grind in the spring, everything we do around here is a grind, just trying to get better. We go through the hard parts now so that in a game it will seem easy."
Nealy added that one of the most valuable parts of this spring has been picking the brains of more experienced players like Shontrelle Johnson and Woody. The Tampa, Fla. native feels that he can now read the holes and cuts better after learning from those players.
"It was a good opportunity to get better every day with my teammates, to practice and go through our motions every day so we can work towards winning a championship next year," Nealy said.
When asked how he would describe a spring campaign at Iowa State in one word, Standard's answer would surprise no one who has become familiar with the program under Rhoads.
"Intense," Standard said. "Every time you step out there on the field, Coach Rhoads expects 100 percent out of you every day, no matter if you're tired, he wants 100 percent."