One of the big early stories of Big 12 spring practice is that Iowa State’s Joel Lanning is going to get some work in at linebacker this spring. You can check out the story with quotes from Matt Campbell here and tucked away at the end of the article is this additional note:
Redshirt freshman defensive end Seth Nerness and redshirt senior linebacker Brian Mills are no longer with the program, Campbell said Tuesday.
Nerness never played in a game and will seek an opportunity to transfer after the season.
Mills, who appeared in 32 games, including all 12 last season with one start, opted to end his football career and enter the workforce upon graduation from Iowa State this spring.
You don’t say? Brian Mills the guy who was the remaining inside-backer from last year that was returning? Without Mills, a 5-10, 226 pound redshirt senior to be, the two returning linebackers with noteworthy experience for the Cyclones were Willie Harvey (6-0, 222 pound redshirt junior to be) and Reggan Northrup (6-1, 205 pound redshirt junior to be). Neither of them are guys that you necessarily want to trust to plug holes as a mike backer but are guys that find their value in navigating the space that the league can put linebackers in.
As Campbell notes in the story, Lanning is one of the better athletes on the team and at 6-2, 230 he’s one of the few athletes on the team with the size to be an impact player at inside-backer. Hopefully for the Cyclones his football IQ and knack for reading defenses in the QB run game will translate to defending all the same stuff from the other side of the ball.
Considering that this is his fifth year at Iowa State I’m guessing that if starts to take to inside-backer at all then Campbell’s quotes will gradually change to address the reality that to have a chance at playing that position well this year and shoring up the Cyclone defense he’s going to have to give it his full attention for the rest of the year.