Iowa State linebacker Kane Seeley has pulled away with the starting linebacker job.
Plenty of positions are up for grabs. Middle linebacker doesn’t appear to be one of them.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is all but writing in senior Kane Seeley’s name in with pen.
“Kane Seeley won the starting linebacker job coming out of spring practice and I think that was evident amongst our staff,” Campbell said. “That’s a credit to Kane Seeley on work ethic, toughness (and) approach to the game.”
Seeley is no stranger to the field. He started five games as a sophomore after Jevohn Miller went down with a knee injury in 2012. He made 52 tackles, one tackle for loss and forced one fumble.
He went back to being a reserve last season, recording 23 tackles and a forced fumble. He showed marked improvement during spring ball, passing returning starter Jordan Harris on the depth chart. Harris would transfer to Louisiana Tech in June.
“Probably the two guys that picked things up and translated that into performance on the field were Kane Seeley and Willie Harvey,” said linebackers coach Tyson Veidt told the Ames Tribune in May. “They were the most consistent in their play and translating the new things into results on the field. Those would be the top two guys.”
Seeley grabbed a hold of the position because he quickly grasped all three things Campbell wants out of his middle linebacker.
First, he showed the ability to be a strong communicator.
“You got to have the ability to adjust the defense and communicate what’s going on with both the d-line and the secondary,” Campbell said.
Toughness is a second component of the position for Campbell.
“We all know this from Kane’s years in high school and wrestling to what he’s done in terms of production here on special teams and defensively,” Campbell said. “He is tough.”
Finally, he wants someone that can make plays.
“You have to have the ability to do it, and Kane (can) certainly do it,” Campbell said.
Depth at linebacker was an issue entering camp. Some of those concerns were elevated at middle linebacker in the first days of camp from junior Brian Mills and true freshman Sutton.
Mills started six games over the last two seasons, showing the potential to contribute on defense. A strong off-season could give him the chance to do so this season.
“He’s made really good strides in terms of our system and getting stronger and testing out phenomenally in the summer program,” Campbell said. “He is making a great push at the (middle) linebacker spot.”
The 5-foot-10, 230-pound Sutton already looks the part of a Big 12 player after splitting time at linebacker and running back at McKeesport High School (Pa.).
“He’s a guy that’s making a great push there as well,” Sutton said. “We are excited to see his progress.”