AMES – Much of the talk and questions that surround spring football center around replacing seniors who played key roles.
Iowa State has to replace four-year starter Willie Harvey at outside linebacker. Often times the replacement comes from someone that goes through spring practices like Will McDonald, Chandler Pulvermacher or another player.
Last year, when the Cyclones had to replace Joel Lanning, Cedar Rapids native O’Rien Vance was thought to be the front runner to take over. But as summer concluded and fall camp began, an unheralded recruit from Ohio named Mike Rose emerged.
Rose started all 13 games for the Cyclones and recorded 75 tackles en route to being named to multiple freshman All-America Teams.
“What’s weird is thinking about where I was a year ago,” Rose said.
He was walking the halls of high school, getting ready for prom and preparing to go to the only Power-5 school that offered him a scholarship.
“He had to mature really quick and he did,” fellow linebacker Marcel Spars said. “He grew a lot over the season.”
Rose grew both physically and mentally. When Rose arrived to Iowa State he weighed just 212 pounds at 6-foot-3. As the season progressed, he got his weight up 228.
This spring, Rose’s weight is up to 240 pounds.
“The added weight helps me take on blocks better,” Rose said. “I also want to have people feel me when I’m coming down and filling an A or B gap.”
Rose is already known as one of the hardest hitters on Iowa State’s football team. The added weight behind the hits could be a force.
“I like having more weight because I don’t feel much slower and the bigger you are, the easier it is to take on a lineman because they’re 300 pounds and you have to go up against them every play.”
And his first spring practices are the perfect time to get used to the extra weight.
“Spring is all about building confidence and getting used to your body,” Rose said. “Especially a lot of the young guys, we’ve put on new weight. At first it was weird because I was nervous for spring ball because I had never done it before.”
Linebackers coach Tyson Veidt still sees plenty of room for growth from Rose.
“He was a guy that got progressively better through the season because he was gaining experience,” Veidt said. “With Mike, you’re looking for a guy that can lead and hopefully we can do a few more things on defense with him.
“We also want him to be a guy that can move into some special teams’ roles for us, too. He can be a valuable guy there for us because he can make plays.”
Rose didn’t play special teams last year because the coaching staff didn’t want to overwhelm their true freshman starting middle linebacker – as much as that’s possible, anyway.
Rose has taken to playing special teams in his first spring practices.
“I’m excited to get on punt and maybe a couple others,” Rose said. “Special teams are just as important as defense, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Spears has been impressed by what he’s seen from Rose this spring.
“He knows the game a lot more,” Spears said. “His I.Q. has gone up and his dedication stayed the same – he’s always hungry.”