Merrier Christmas for ISU’s long-suffering seniors

Finishing their Christmas shopping isn’t the only thing on Iowa State player’s minds this year. They have a game to prepare and pack for. 

No current team members have played in a postseason game.

A few players were along for the ride in 2005 at the Houston Bowl — ISU’s last bowl appearance — but were true freshmen and redshirted that season. Safety James Smith was one of those scout team all-stars. 

He didn’t think it would be another four years before he was back in a bowl.

The Cyclones (6-6) leave for Tempe, Ariz., the day after Christmas (weather permitting) in advance of their New Year’s Eve Insight Bowl game against Minnesota.

“We’ve been working hard for the last five years. We’ve been through a lot,” said Smith, one of 10 senior starters playing in their final game. “It feels good to get rewarded.”

Senior defensive tackle Nate Frere came to ISU in 2006.

The teams he was on before this year had a combined record of 9-27. He witnessed the end of the Dan McCarney era, Gene Chizik’s brief stay in Ames, and the promising start to Paul Rhoads’ coaching career.

The bumps in the road in getting to next week’s game got the Cyclones to this point. Frere is as proud as anybody to be in this position.

“Hard work and sticking with it is going to pay off at some point,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

The rest of ISU’s long-suffering senior class: tight end Derrick Catlett, center Reggie Stephens, receiver Marquis Hamilton, punter Mike Brandtner, and linebackers Jesse Smith, Derec Schmidgall, Fred Garrin and Josh Raven. Defensive end Christopher Lyle is a junior college transfer who has spent only three years in Ames.

He’s had it rough, but not as bad as the rest of his senior mates.

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