Iowa State Cyclones’ Top 10 Returning Players in 2024 Include Rocco Becht, Jaylin Noel

    Iowa State had a more successful season than expected a year ago, and these top 10 returning players can improve the Cyclones again in 2024.

    The Iowa State Cyclones recovered in 2023 to finish with a respectable 7-6 record under head coach Matt Campbell after a difficult period that involved investigations for gambling breaches. The inquiries have been discussed at length, but what has emerged from the rubble has flourished.

    The Cyclones unearthed exciting, up-and-coming talent while also maximizing the veteran talent on their roster. If these top 10 returning players can improve again in 2024, it should be an exciting season for Iowa State fans in Ames.

    Iowa State Cyclones’ Top 10 Returners in 2024

    Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes on each team’s roster page to open spring camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.

    10) Will McLaughlin, LB

    Will McLaughlin returns in 2024 after starting all 13 games last season. The standout linebacker excelled in his sophomore campaign, finishing with 46 tackles, seven for a loss, one sack, two interceptions, one pass breakup, and one fumble recovery. His seven tackles for a loss led the Cyclones, whereas his 46 tackles ranked him fourth among Iowa State contributors.

    Entering his junior season, McLaughlin has set the bar high for an even better 2024, as the Iowa State linebacker tandem with Jack Sadowsky looks tight. Both started all 13 games and will form a more formidable partnership in the upcoming season.

    9) Kenard Snyder, DL

    Kenard Snyder transfers to Iowa State after an impressive season with Louisiana Monroe, where he put up 60 tackles and 5.5 sacks with the Warhawks. His 2023 sack record would have been enough to lead the Cyclones, who didn’t have a player with more than 3.5 sacks a year ago.

    While the Cyclones’ pass rush production is broad, with four players getting three sacks or more in 2023, Snyder has the skill set to step in and contribute immediately.

    8) Myles Purchase, CB

    Myles Purchase had a career year in 2023 and will have an even more prominent role in the fall, following standout cornerback T.J. Tampa’s departure to the NFL. The DB has started 24 out of 25 games over the last two seasons and has played an important part in the Cyclones’ defense.

    In 2023, Purchase had 56 tackles, five for a loss, one sack, and 15 pass breakups. His tackle count was good enough to rank him third on the team, while his incredible 15 pass breakups ranked second in the Big 12 and fourth nationally.

    7) Ben Brahmer, TE

    Ben Brahmer ranked third on the team in receiving yards as a freshman tight end, making just two starts (although he did play in all 13 games, replacing Easton Dean). His unexpected first-year production saw him set the Cyclones record for the most receptions by a freshman TE in program history, and he has been working on his blocking ability in the offseason.

    Brahmer ranks sixth on our preseason 2024 Big 12 TE Rankings heading and is expected to build on his rookie campaign, which saw him catch 28 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns. A breakout year feels imminent for the talented youngster, who will take on a more significant role in 2024.

    6) Beau Freyler, S

    Beau Freyler, an Iowa State co-captain, returns in 2024 after an outstanding 2023 campaign. The safety had a career year and has started the last 22 games. His production was also up last fall, as he led an exceptional Cyclones secondary in tackles.

    MORE: 2024 Iowa State Cyclones Football Roster

    Iowa State was named CFN’s Big 12 Secondary of the Year and looks just as good in 2024, even with the loss to Tampa. With 107 tackles a year ago, Freyler had the fourth most tackles in the Big 12 and became the first Iowa State player to register over 100 tackles since 2017. Expect Freyler to produce again in the fall as a consistent contributor in a stacked secondary.

    5) Jayden Higgins, WR

    Jayden Higgins, who transferred from Eastern Kentucky to the Cyclones in 2023, was one of Rocco Becht’s favorite targets, catching 53 passes in 13 games. In his first year with the program, Higgins achieved CFN Third-Team All-Big 12 Offense honors alongside his fellow receiver, Jaylin Noel. Both receivers return in 2024 and are expected to contribute significantly again.

    In 2023, Higgins had 53 catches for 983 yards and six touchdowns, leading the program in receiving yards. He became just the third receiver in Iowa State history to produce two 150-yard games in a season, and the explosive senior won Offensive Newcomer of the Year in Ames.

    4) Jeremiah Cooper, S

    While all of the Iowa State secondary stood out, Jeremiah Cooper looked like one of the top safeties in the country, earning CFN First-Team All-Big 12 Defense in 2023. His five interceptions led the team a year ago and ranked him second in the conference.

    With an additional 45 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, one touchdown, and 10 pass breakups last fall, Cooper returns in his junior year after an incredibly productive season and should star again in 2024.

    3) Jaylin Noel, WR

    Jaylin Noel had the best year of his career in 2023 and returns for another go-around in Ames. The Cyclones WR has shown improvement every season and is expected to kick on again in 2024. He burst onto the scene as a freshman, recording one of the best rookie seasons in program history. He then improved in 2022, starting eight games.

    However, in 2023, Noel shone. Named a co-captain, the Iowa State WR caught 66 passes for 820 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns. He also fielded punts and kicks, returning 14 punts and nine kicks for 364 yards.

    2) Abu Sama III, RB

    Abu Sama III had a groundbreaking freshman season in 2023, rushing for 614 yards and six touchdowns. He hit the ground running early in the season, playing in all 13 games and earning two starts at the end of the year. Sama’s rushing yard total was the third most by a freshman in program history, as the RB flashed talent, potential, and production in his rookie season.

    KEEP READING: T.J. Tampa Names Myles Purchase, Jeremiah Cooper as Next Men Up

    The three-star recruit’s year was epitomized by an unimaginable first start of his college career against Kansas State in November, where Sama racked up 276 yards and three touchdowns rushing in the snow. With untapped potential, he can explode in 2024.

    1) Rocco Becht, QB

    Rocco Becht was named the starter before the 2023 season, following the gambling scandal that caused Hunter Dekkers to step away from the program. Iowa State could never have imagined that such challenging circumstances would unearth a star.

    His Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year season was record-breaking. Becht set freshman program records for completions, yards, and touchdowns. He completed 231 of his 367 passes for 3,120 yards, 23 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Big things are expected of Bechts as he heads into his second season as the starter in Ames.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

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