If you can play running back, Iowa State may have a spot on its roster for you. A spot on the team opened up Wednesday afternoon when the school announced the dismissal of running back Martinez Syria. The reason? A violation of team rules, of course.
Syria rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown in five games for Iowa State last fall. During the season he suffered a concussion that forced him to miss even more playing time, and the team held him out of spring practices due to a neck injury. The running back depth was not particularly deep for the Cyclones heading into the 2015 season, and the loss of Syria reduces the total number of backs in the stable by one.
Syria is the third running back gone from last year’s roster too. As noted by The Des Moines Register, Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads previously confirmed DeVondrick Nealy was no longer a part of the program, and Aaron Wimberly graduated. But don’t worry, Class of 2015 running back Sheldon Croney should be available to play despite shooting himself in the hand in May.
It’s been a rough offseason for Iowa State running backs.
And now we’ll update you on one of the weirdest injuries sustained by a college football player this offseason, or any other offseason for that matter.
Last Friday it was reported that 2015 Iowa State signee Sheldon Croney accidentally shot himself in the left hand earlier in the week. No update was available on his condition at the time, but his future head coach stepped up to allay any fears Cyclone fans may have had about the running back’s availability for the 2015 season.
“He is doing fine,” Paul Rhoads told the Ames Tribune. “There is going to have to be a healing process that takes place. With the medical reports we have right now we have are confident that by summertime, about when he arrives, he’ll be able to do most everything everyone else is doing.”
The incident that injured Conley occurred in Bakersfield last Tuesday. According to the police department in that California city, “Croney found the gun of a friend’s father and it accidentally discharged.”
Croney was a three-star member of ISU’s 2015 recruiting class. With the departure of DeVondrick Nealy, penciled in as the starter at running back, back in February, Croney will have the opportunity to contribute immediately as a true freshman. Provided he can stay away from firearms, of course.
(Photo credit: Rivals.com)
A day of addition was also one of ongoing subtraction for Iowa State.
In announcing and discussing his 2015 recruiting class, Paul Rhoads also confirmed that DeVondrick Nealy is one of a handful of players no longer with the football program. The ISU head coach stated that Nealy left voluntarily a couple of weeks ago, although some of the departures have been non-voluntary.
“We are a blue-collar football program that has no excuses and no explanations,” Rhoads said. “There have been a number of dismissals and departures from our program for failing to meet these high standards and expectations.”
Nealy was third on the team in rushing in 2014 with 271 yards, and was expected to head into at least summer camp as the starting running back. No reason was given for his departure.
The Cyclones did add a pair of running backs on signing day, Sheldon Croney and Joshua Thomas, at least one of whom may be forced into immediate service due to the lack of depth at the position.
In addition to Nealy’s departure, Rhoads also announced that redshirt junior wide receiver Tad Ecby and redshirt freshman wide receiver Chase Onken were no longer on the team. Ecby caught eight passes (10th on the team) for 237 yards (fifth) in 2014, one year after finishing fourth on the team in receptions (22) and receiving yards (233). Onken didn’t play in any games during his time in Ames.
The trio of departures brings to eight the number of Cyclones who have either been dismissed, left voluntarily or transferred since January. Among those was one of ISU’s top returning receivers and a starting defensive back.
The Iowa Hawkeyes continue to benefit from the maturation of junior quarterback Jake Rudock. The quarterback’s decision making in the first half propelled Iowa to a 14-3 lead over the rival Iowa State Cyclones.
Rudock was 10-of-13 passing for 103 yards. The quarterback also led the Hawkeyes with 28 rushing yards.
Iowa’s final scoring drive was a perfect example of how Rudock’s play affects the Hawkeyes’ offense. Rudock orchestrated a 10-play drive in the second quarter which culminated in the team’s second touchdown. The junior was 3-of-4 passing during the drive, including a 10-yard pass to Jacob Hillyer on 4th-and-8 from Iowa State’s 6-yard line. Rudock nearly made a mistake one play later by throwing into coverage, but he quickly shook it off and made the right decision on second down to keep the football on an option play which gave the Hawkeyes a two-score lead.
Iowa State’s quarterback, Sam B. Richardson, also played well, but the Cyclones couldn’t avoid mistakes. Richardson was 8-of-15 passing for 105 passing yards. Richardson led a drive to Iowa’s 2-yard line with under four minutes remaining in the second quarter. Unfortunately, running back DeVondrick Nealy fumbled the football as he attempted to cross the goal line.
As the 62nd annual meeting for the Cy-Hawk Trophy continues in the second half, Iowa will continue to do what it does. The Hawkeyes will be patient on offense. They will win at the point of attack and run the football. On defense, Iowa will play disciplined football. Iowa State needs to finish on offense, while the defense remains sound.
Eleven points aren’t insurmountable for Iowa State. The Cyclones trailed 13-7 last week against the Kansas State Wildcats before scoring 21 unanswered points in the third quarter. Iowa will have trouble making a comeback if the Cyclones can repeat the performance.
An Iowa State may have avoided a legal hassle in connection to an on-campus riot earlier this week, but one of his teammates, in an unrelated incident, wasn’t as fortunate.
According to the Ames Tribune, DeVondrick Nealy was arrested and charged with an excessive noise violation late Wednesday night. The offending noise was reportedly the music emanating from the junior running back’s vehicle.
What likely earned Nealy the misdemeanor charge was the fact that he had been pulled over by police 15 minutes earlier because of, you guessed it, loud music. He was given a warning the first go around.
While this a seemingly innocuous incident, it’s Nealy’s second brush with the law in less than 10 months. Last June, Nealy was reportedly “shooting things on campus” with a BB gun and ultimately charged with harassment of a public official. He was suspended indefinitely following that incident; because of his “prior,” that could very well be the case again.
Nealy’s 158 yards rushing in 2013 were third among Cyclone running backs, while his two rushing touchdowns were tied for second.