The story was straight out of “Chip Hilton,” the Clair Bee fictional athletic hero of another era of an athlete who could do just about anything. Or maybe a 21st century version of Jim Thorpe or Red Grange, who were all-purpose, All America players on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
But we digress.
Consider some stats from Iowa State’s stunning 38-31 upset of No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday, a game played in Norman, Oklahoma, in which the Sooners were 31 point favorites.
In that game, starting Iowa State middle linebacker Joel Lanning was on the field for 78 snaps. That doesn’t seem unusual until you read the splits: 57 on defense, 13 on offense and eight on special teams.
Get an idea as to where we are going here?
Mixed up in those snaps were 28 passing yards and 35 rushing yards on offense. On defense, Lanning, a 6-foot-2 inch, 230 pound former quarterback finished with eight tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
All of which were huge, contributing factors in Iowa State ending a 20-game losing streak against ranked opponents and posting its first win in Norman since 1990.
“”There are a lot of good football players in college football,” said Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell after the game. “”But I don’t know if there is anyone that does more for their team.”
But to make this story really sizzle you need to add the character factor to the plot.
Lanning, you see, began his career in Ames as a quarterback, but in the middle of last season he lost his starting job to a QB named Jacob Park.
Did Lanning sulk or mope or transfer?
He did not.
He told Campbell he wanted to still be part of the team and he worked at becoming the starting middle linebacker. He worked hard at being the best he could be.
Wait, there’s more.
Just before the Oklahoma game, Park left the team for undisclosed health issues. Campbell had to make a choice and went to a red-shirt senior walk-on named Kyle Kempt. But he told Lanning to be ready to help on an as-needed basis.
Iowa State needed Lanning early and often. “Just doing my part,” Lanning said.
For doing that extremely well, Joel Lanning is TMG’s Newsmaker of the Week.