We normally don’t report on off-the-field hires here at CFT, but these are not two normal off-the-field hires.
On Wednesday, Iowa State announced Kyle Kempt and Joel Lanning are returning to the program as quality control assistants.
If those names sound familiar, they should. With apologies to David Montgomery, Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler, it’s possible no two players are more responsible for the ongoing Cyclone Renaissance than Kempt and Lanning.
A one-time third-string quarterback, Kempt quarterbacked Iowa State to a 38-31 win at No. 3 Oklahoma in 2017. In his first career start, Kempt diced the Sooners by going 18-of-24 for 343 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Later that season, Kempt guided Iowa State to a win over No. 4 TCU, making him the first and only quarterback to lead Iowa State to two victories over top-5 opponents.
Sparked by Kempt, Iowa State finished the 2017 campaign with an 8-5 record, a Liberty Bowl win and an AP Top 25 finish, the program’s best season at the time since 2002.
Granted a sixth-year of eligibility, Kempt entered 2018 as the Cyclones’ starter, but was lost for the year to a knee injury and gave way to true freshman Brock Purdy, who enters 2019 firmly entrenched as Iowa State’s starter.
“With all of the events that have happened with Coach Campbell helping me out, I now have the chance to give back to the program that gave me so many opportunities,” said Kempt. “To be able to work under a coach as great as Coach Campbell, who is considered one of the best in the nation, is really special.”
Lanning arrived in Ames as a quarterback and spent his first four years at the position, but his talents grew to a point where he eventually became a three-way player. Lanning starred at linebacker, finishing third nationally as a senior with 8.8 tackles per game while rushing for 135 yards and throwing for 47. The 2017 winner of the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player, he became the first FBS player since 2006 (Eric Weddle) to record a sack, interception, fumble recovery, rushing touchdown and passing touchdown in a season.
“Coach Campbell and this staff helped turned my football career around and I will do whatever I can to give back,” Lanning said. “I also want to learn a lot from them and help the program out any way I can. You have to start your coaching career somewhere and I am blessed to be able to do it at Iowa State. This will be fun and a great opportunity for me.”
Kempt will work with Iowa State’s offense, while Lanning will work with the defense.
“Joel and Kyle are two of the biggest reasons we have been able to change the culture within our program at Iowa State,” Campbell said. “As captains, they were leaders who inspired greatness in their teammates. They also have sharp football minds and are eager to get into coaching. This will be a great first step for them as they initiate their coaching careers and they will be a valuable asset to our coaching staff and players.”