Cyclone Defense Has A Leader In George
AMES, Iowa – Jeremiah George received a taste of success last season and he liked it. Subbing behind NFL linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott for his first 2 ½ seasons as a Cyclone, George seized an opportunity mid-season of the 2012 campaign when Knott went down with an injury.
Knott, who was in the midst of an All-American season and All-American career at Iowa State, valiantly played his final game of his career against Baylor (Oct. 27) with a shoulder that needed surgery. After leading the Cyclones to victory for one final time, he exited stage left and relinquished the reins to George.
The results were quite impressive.
The Clearwater, Fla., native led all Cyclones by racking up a career-high 17 tackles vs. Oklahoma (Nov. 3) in the next game. A star on the field had arrived.
“The Oklahoma game was a huge boost to my confidence,” George said. “That was an up and down game. It felt good looking at the stat sheet, but then going back into the film room and seeing how many tackles I did miss, I think that helped me more than the 17 tackles. I was like, 'if I’m doing this at a high rate while not understanding why I missed those tackles, wait until I do understand, and I’ll be able to do more.'”
If you haven’t noticed, George is a student of the game. He’s one of the strongest and hardest workers on the team. Preseason pundits have paid attention, too. His name has popped up on many preseason All-Big 12 lists. He’s ready to fill the big shoes of Knott and Klein and lead the new Cyclone linebacking crew.
“I’m very excited because it’s going to be different,” George said. “Changes are good sometimes. It hurts to lose guys like Jake and A.J., with their experience, the amount of games that they’ve played and the amount of success they had. Now we have a bunch of young guys that have to take that over and try to fill that void.”
Jevohn Miller and Jared Brackens will help George fill that void. Brackens, a junior, switched positions, converting over to linebacker from defensive back. Miller, another talented junior, has been Knott and Klein’s understudy and is eager to show his skills.
“If you look at Jared Brackens, he has so much speed to be playing that SAM/Nickel position that he is able to cover ground in the Big 12, and that’s what you need,” George said. “I got to play more last year, I learned more what other offenses are trying to do, so I’m able to be more free spirited and run around and do my thing. All the linebackers are really fighting for a position and trying to show that they can do what Jake and A.J. did at the same kind of level. You’re always trying to meet new levels.”
With the all-important summer training in full session, George and his teammates are benefitting from their first off-season in the brand new state-of-the-art Bergstrom Football Complex.
“It has impacted us in a very big way,” George said. “The time management improvements could be the most important aspect. We can do everything at one place efficiently. There isn’t a weight room in the country better than ours, and you can get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, just like on the football field.”
The emergence of George as a team leader is confirmed. The senior relishes his new role as the sage veteran of the squad, but he has one more goal to accomplish this offseason: being named captain.
“It would mean everything in the world to me,” George said. “Growing up, you want to be a guy that everybody looks up to. You want to be a positive influence on younger people. You want the team to really trust you. Our captains are voted by the team and for this team to look at me as a captain, I would love that and I would cherish it and I would not take it for granted.”