Posts Tagged ‘Jesse Smith’

Klein “ready to step up” as defensive leader

March 25, 2010

AMES — Iowa State’s defense is looking for some new leaders.

Sophomore linebacker A.J. Klein wants the job.

“I’m ready to step up,” Klein said Tuesday, the first day of spring practice for the Cyclones, who are replacing a half-dozen defensive starters and all three linebackers. “I want to be the leader.”

Klein, Jake Knott — who also got his feet wet last year playing some as a true freshman — and transfer Matt Taufoou sit atop the depth chart at this point in time.

Klein wants to fill the shoes of Jesse Smith, an emotional leader and one of the Cyclones’ top tacklers the past three seasons. Josh Raven and Fred Garrin, both starters, and backup Derec Schmidgall also have moved on.

“Jesse and Fred and Raven all helped us out a lot giving us pointers knowing it would be us next year,” Klein said. “There’s nobody else older around to teach us.”

Klein has a burning desire to follow in Smith’s footsteps as a defensive captain.

The 6-1, 237-pounder from Kimberly, Wis., wants to help call the shots.

“I know I’m going to be getting signals from the sideline but I always want to be the guy taking charge,” Klein said. “I want to make this a championship team. I want to be the leader of it.”

Merrier Christmas for ISU’s long-suffering seniors

December 24, 2009

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.

More from the Big 12’s leading tackler…

November 20, 2009

Most college students couldn’t fathom taking marriage vows at this point in their lives.

Iowa State linebacker Jesse Smith isn’t one of them. He’s already done it.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said. “Play football, come home and see my wife, do the family thing. It’s great.”

Smith, who leads the Big 12 Conference with 117 tackles, met his future wife, McKenzie, when they two lived in the dorms.  Apparently, she’s a football-loving spouse who doesn’t mind hangin’ with her husband’s teammates.

“She’s one of the guys,” Smith said.

Their professional lives also are compatible.

She is a special education teacher in Adel. He will graduate in May with a degree in health and human performance and ideally will get a job as a physical education teacher and coach football and wrestling.

“That’s what I see myself doing. We are going to make a lot of money,” Smith joked.

Read more about his football exploits this season in Friday’s Gazette. Follow the links to E-edition: www.gazetteonline.com

ISU’s defense is better. Seriously.

September 7, 2009

What was Iowa State ‘s bugaboo heading into the season? Defense, right.

The Cyclones allowed 35.8 points a game in 2008. They gave up half that in last Thursday’s 34-17 victory over North Dakota State, although many of tackling and big-play problems from a year ago were still evident.

Still, progress is being made. Really.

“We did a lot of good things,” said linebacker Jesse Smith, who totaled 15 tackles in the opener. “Obviously we missed a few tackles that cost us, but I think we did pretty well. We’re getting better.”

The Bison scored a touchdown with 3 1/2 minutes to play in the third quarter, cutting ISU’s lead to 24-17.  The didn’t sniff the red zone the rest of the way.

In the four drives after that score, NDSU ran 18 plays for a grand total of 39 yards. The Cyclone D stepped up.

“Going into the fourth quarter we said we are not going to give up any more points, we are going to stop them and we are going to win this game,” said nose guard Nate Frere. “That’s what we did.”

It’s going to take a better effort Saturday against Iowa, which has better and bigger athletes running its offense, and as the season moves along.

There’s reason to be optimistic, though, that ISU’s defense will be better. Then again, how can it not.