AMES, Ia. — From the outside looking in, it seems like everyone is expecting Iowa State to remain in the Big 12 cellar.
After all, the Cyclones were picked 10th in the preseason Big 12 media poll last month. The ranking wasn’t a surprise to Iowa State’s veteran offensive lineman though. That’s because Jarrod Hufford understands his team is coming off their first losing campaign since 2017.
So the Cyclones are flying low under the radar, and that’s exactly how Hufford likes it. In his mind there’s nothing like being the hunters instead of being the hunted, and that’s adding more fuel to the fire. Regardless, he knows Iowa State failed to deliver in the clutch. So Hufford is pushing his fellow offensive linemen to be a strength for the offense, instead of a liability.
“Coming off that 4-8 season, and really you look back at all of the one-score games, the turnover margin, that feeling of knowing we were there, it’s a lot of motivation,” Hufford said. ”
Everything starts with the big boys up front, but Hufford knows the Cyclones didn’t block well at the point of attack. Iowa State ranked 75th nationally in sacks allowed, and Hufford knows that’s inexcusable. He’s been focusing on being a leader and the responsibility that comes with the territory. The former three-star prospect has started 20 consecutive games, including at guard, center and tackle.
Hufford knows his value to the offense as a whole, and takes pride in anchoring the unit. The Ohio native is all about hand placement and mauling defenders in the trenches. Hufford excels in the interior and out on the edge, so he loves setting the tone. Everyone feeds off his energy, and they’re all ready to prove the doubters wrong about the upcoming season.
“It’s a lot of fuel going into this year because I assume many people aren’t expecting us to do much,” he said. “Being my fifth year, I’ve never felt more confident about a year than this year.”
Hufford played alongside two-time, All-Big 12 performer Trevor Downing, and remembers everything he taught him. Toughness and confidence has made Hufford into the player he is today. It’s obvious his teammates and coaches admire him. Hufford was the only offensive lineman that attended Iowa State’s media day Friday, and that’s saying a lot.
The six-foot-five, 325-pounder is a gentle giant, who carries himself with class on and off the field. With this being his last season as a Cyclone, Hufford is eager to leave the program how he arrived. Generating another winning campaign would be an ideal way to go out, and he wants to be instrumental in helping Iowa State get to the promised land. He’s confident the offense has made strides, and will prove the doubters wrong. Most importantly, the big boys up front are ready to pave the way for the entire unit this fall.
“It’s not all on us, but we like to think it’s all on us, so if we can run the ball well, and throw the ball well, we’ll score points.”