We’re taking a closer look this week at 10 Big 12 players who have been on the spot this spring. Some are coming back from injury or in the middle of a key position battle. Others have a lot to prove after their 2016 season did not meet expectations. For these guys, this offseason is a big deal.
Player on the spot: Iowa State RB Mike Warren
In one season, Warren went from the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year to losing his starting job.
But the good news for the Cyclones is, Warren, in Iowa State’s spring game Saturday, resembled the player that rushed for almost 1,400 yards two years ago.
“He had a really good day,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said afterward. “It gives him self-confidence going into the summer and obviously into next fall. We’re going to need Mike Warren to be playing at an elite level for us. He’s a guy that’s got that kind of ability.”
After breaking out as a redshirt freshman, Warren did not showcase that ability last season. He seemed to clash with the new coaching staff, struggled through injuries and eventually lost the starting job to David Montgomery. As a result, Warren finished with only 559 rushing yards on nearly half as many carries from the year before.
This spring, however, Warren seems to have bounced back in a big way.
In the spring game, Warren scored twice and rushed for 28 yards on four carries, including a nifty cutback 20-yard touchdown dash.
“As a coach, my job is to get every one of our kids to play to their full potential,” Campbell said. “The reality of it is you have to do a great job of doing what makes each guy tick and be honest. I think, to a fault sometimes maybe, I’m honest with everybody.
“Mike’s just a guy who has responded so well.”
To reach their potential this season, the Cyclones will need Warren to reach his. So far, he has responded to that challenge.