Iowa State entered this season expecting Kyle Kempt to be its starting quarterback. A former walk-on, Kempt burst on the scene with a 343-yard, 3-touchdown performance in a shocking win over No. 3 Oklahoma, then piloted the Cyclones the rest of the way. Granted a sixth year of eligibility over the off-season, this was supposed to be Kempt’s team.
And then he got hurt.
Kempt went down with a knee injury during Iowa State’s season-opening loss to Iowa and, though it hasn’t been diagnosed as a long-term injury, he hasn’t played since.
The Cyclones turned to redshirt sophomore Zeb Noland at quarterback, and he turned in a Kempt-like first start, throwing for 360 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-27 loss to No. 7 Oklahoma. Noland started Iowa State’s next three games, two of them wins, but head coach Matt Campbell pulled Noland after one drive of the Oct. 6 Oklahoma State game, inserting freshman Brock Purdy.
The Gilbert, Ariz., native Purdy has played well enough that Kempt and Noland have not played again. He threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns on Oct. 6, leading the Cyclones to a 48-42 win. From there, Purdy threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-14 thumping of No. 12 West Virginia and 250 yards and two scores in Saturday’s 40-31 win over Texas Tech.
With Iowa State now in the Big 12 title game hunt, the job is Purdy’s and Noland is out.
Campbell said Saturday that Noland will take a personal leave of absence from the team.
“I don’t know where that is right now,” he said at the time. “But he did nothing wrong. It was nothing in terms of anything else other than we’ll have maybe some definitive (answer) to that here maybe sometime next week.”
But now Campbell has announced Noland has elected to transfer.
“I want to thank Zeb for his time at Iowa State,” Campbell said. “He notified me of his decision to transfer in order to find more playing time. I respect Zeb’s decision and we will assist him in his process of finding another school.”
Noland has already been removed from Iowa State’s online roster.
A native of Watkinsville, Ga., Noland redshirted in 2016 while rehabbing a torn ACL, so he would have to sit 2019 and play in 2020 as a senior unless the former 3-star recruit earns his communications studies degree before transferring.