The last time Iowa State’s Joel Lanning played linebacker before this season, he was in eighth grade.
But when Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell asked Lanning to switch from quarterback to linebacker, he stepped up. As Bleacher Report’s Matt Hayes detailed, Lanning’s two-way star turn against Oklahoma last Saturday was a long time coming.
“After one practice…I remember thinking, this guy is going to have an opportunity to play in the NFL at linebacker,” Campbell said. Lanning immediately showed his promise at the position.
But it wasn’t easy. He was bruised and beaten by offensive linemen during practice. He was overanalyzing plays, which put him a step behind ballcarriers.
“I remember looking in the mirror, thinking, how did I get that bruise there?” Lanning said.
Graduate assistant Kenny McClendon told Lanning to “find the ball, tackle the ball.” And that made all the difference.
Now, he’s one of the Cyclones best players. His fellow linebacker Josey Jewell is in amazement.
“You can’t just walk in and play this position,” Jewell said. “There are things you only learn from being out there, getting [repetitions] and doing it. There’s nothing easy about doing what he’s doing.”
It might not be easy. But Lanning has made it seem simple as could be with his stellar play.
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