Montgomery, Cyclones are no longer a secret
By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
AMES — Big 12 coaches and football junkies know all about Iowa State junior running back David Montgomery.
Montgomery is poised to make his presence felt throughout the rest of the country this fall.
Montgomery racked up 1,146 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns in 2017. But those numbers fail to fully show how impressive he was in just his second season at the position.
Montgomery also forced a national-best 109 missed tackles — a stat compiled by website Pro Football Focus — while running behind a line that was average on its best days.
“He can be as good as he wants to be because of his work ethic,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “To be honest with you, he is such a craftsman at his sport. He’s got the ability to really dive in, hone his craft and power his craft. … I really think (his ceiling) is as high as he wants it to be and what he wants it to become.”
Montgomery will be the focal point of both Iowa State’s offense and opposing defenses this season, which starts on Sept. 1 at home against South Dakota State of the FCS.
But Montgomery instead deferred to a talented supporting cast during Tuesday’s media day, cracking a few jokes in an effort to deflect attention.
“Whatever coach Campbell and the team needs me to do, I’m down to do. Whether it’s me long snapping, I’ll long snap. If (Campbell) needs me to hold the kicks for the field goal specialist, I will,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery converted from quarterback to running back when he arrived on campus in 2016. After earning first-team All-Big 12 honors at his new position, it’s safe to say that Montgomery won’t be called upon as a placeholder.
Montgomery scored twice in last year’s opening-night win over Northern Iowa and added 112 yards in a loss to rival Iowa. Montgomery bowled over Hawkeyes All-American linebacker Josey Jewell for a touchdown in that one, essentially sealing his status as the team’s starter.
Iowa State, which went 8-5 in 2017, then rallied to stun then-No. 3 Oklahoma 38-31, and Montgomery flashed his versatility in that early October upset by catching seven passes for 89 yards.
Montgomery later ran for at least 100 yards in three straight games, highlighted by a three-TD performance against Oklahoma State. Montgomery finished the year with 36 receptions, and those missed tackles were the most since Pro Football Focus started tracking that stat in 2014.
“He can stop on a dime. He can make guys miss. He can pick up blocks,” Iowa State running back Johnnie Lang said. “He’s just always alert and aware of what’s going on. He’s never caught off guard.”
Montgomery said he doesn’t have any statistical goals in mind for 2018. But he should be in position to surpass last year’s numbers with four starters back along the offensive line, a unit led by juniors Julian Good-Jones and Bryce Meeker.
Though Campbell isn’t convinced that the line has arrived, so to speak, Iowa State is hoping that all that returning experience should mean that Montgomery won’t have to work so hard to avoid oncoming defenders.
“I’m very confident just having those guys back,” Montgomery said. “It’s exciting to have those boys, and to see the amount of work and time they put in in the offseason.”