It’s certainly not the most experienced, but they have a future star in the making in their secondary unit and the future looks brighter with a JUCO transfer that returned to the team.
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Losing players like Deon Broomfield and Jacques Washington will be hard to replace, especially since both were in the top four last season in total tackles and Washington had the second-most with 119. Both Washington and former linebacker Jeremiah George were the only Cyclones that were over the century mark.
Thanks to the return of Devron Moore, Iowa State is assured of a real talent at cornerback and safety. Moore left the team in the spring because he felt homesick, and despite losing his scholarship, he will make a return to the program. His return will help a shaky safety core that has Kamari Cotton-Moya and T.J. Mutcherson, the projected starters from spring ball, recovering from a torn Achillies and sprained MCL, respectively.
Player to watch: Nigel Tribune is the guy to watch at cornerback. He made his biggest all-around impact by deflecting a pass, intercepting the ball, and recording three tackles in the game against Oklahoma State last season, and he had a season-high five tackles against TCU a few weeks after.
Without question, Tribune is the guy expected to make a big impact and you’ll likely be seeing his name on award watch lists if he continues to improve like he did throughout the season last year.
Newcomer to watch: The previously mentioned Cotton-Moya. Not only is his name fun to say, but he was a three-star recruit by ESPN and also played a little bit at the quarterback position in California. He could have stayed more in the Western portion of the country, but he passed up Fresno State, Nevada, and Utah State to play under Paul Rhoads.
Projection: It’s not saying much at the moment, but this is the best part of the Cyclones defense. Sure, there’s been times when fans will yell in frustration at the other Sam Richardson or at Tribune, but they are still very young players. They’ve shown more potential than not and I wouldn’t be surprised if they made plays that will ultimately impact a lot of these games this season.
In recent years, Iowa State’s rushing defense has been a trainwreck and that’s more of a concern again heading into this season. Unless opposing offenses confuses the Cyclone defense to no end, I wouldn’t anticipate teams throwing over 300 yards a game on this secondary.