AMES - Levi Peters has never been one to back down from challenges.
Currently listed as the third-string weakside linebacker, the former Twin River Valley and Fort Dodge Senior High all-stater is ready to make the most of every opportunity that comes his way this fall.
Peters discussed his potential role on the defensive unit and several other topics during Sunday's annual Iowa State football media day inside Jack Trice Stadium.
Messenger photo by Josh Meyer
Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Levi Peters poses in front of the team during Iowa State’s media day in Ames on Sunday.
"I would feel more comfortable playing defense than I ever have in the past," said the 5-foot-11, 216-pound Peters. "I really didn't know much about football when I first got (to Ames).
"It's just so different in college. I was hearing things that weren't English to me. I'm definitely understanding the whole defense a lot better now."
After redshirting in 2012, Peters saw action in all 12 games as a freshman walk-on for the Cyclones last year, quickly becoming a fan favorite for his enthusiasm and all-out hustle. He earned the Jim Doran Award for outstanding special teams player. Peters had 15 tackles, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
"Special teams is so fun just because you can kind of act like a wild man," Peters said. "Once you do your job, you're free to go knock some heads around. It's awesome."
Adjusting to the speed and physicality of FBS football continues to be a gradual process for Peters.
"It's crazy how fast and strong everyone is," said Peters, who will once again wear jersey No. 35 this year. "The fastest player in high school is just another person (at Iowa State). It takes a while to get used to things at this level, but I set high goals for myself like being a four-year contributor. I wouldn't settle for anything less."
Last season, the Cyclones finished 3-9 overall, including 2-7 in the Big 12 Conference. Peters is optimistic ISU can now turn its fortunes back around.
"Winning a bowl game is definitely our goal, but we can't just be satisfied with that," Peters said. "We obviously want to get a victory every time we step out on the field no matter who we're playing."
Peters has no regrets in choosing to play college football over any other sport. He was also an all-state baseball player and a four-time individual state wrestling qualifier, including a Class 1A 160-pound state champion for Twin River Valley in 2010.
"I'm really happy with the decision I made," said Peters. "I have so many friends on the team that I'm close with.
"Sometimes you miss the other sports, but I think everyone does. I love baseball, but I still bring out my glove to play catch with the guys every once in a while."
As a high school senior, Peters tore his meniscus twice and underwent two surgeries. He then grayshirted after arriving at Iowa State before suffering a Lisfranc fracture in his left leg in 2012, sidelining him for all of spring ball.
Screws were removed when training camp started. He didn't run until August, but made a quick recovery. Peters was practicing with the team again by September.
"I've fully recovered now from my injuries," Peters said. "I'm really looking forward to the start of this season."
Veteran ISU defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Wally Burnham has seen Peters make significant improvement since first stepping foot on campus.
"Levi is a mad man," said Burnham. "He's one of the most energetic guys I've ever been around. Levi's going to give you everything he's got.
"We saw a light come on a little bit in the spring. He's made tremendous progress and continues to get better. I'd feel good about playing him at linebacker, too, if needed."
* Humboldt graduate Bryan Larson and former Iowa Central player Hiro Sasaki are also on Iowa State's roster. Larson is a 278-pound redshirt freshman offensive lineman, while Sasaki is a 274-pound junior defensive end.
*Grant Rohach, Sam Richardson, and Joel Lanning are each listed as possible starters at quarterback. Head coach Paul Rhoads reiterated during his interview that there will be a decision made at quarterback this week.
*Junior college transfers Trent Taylor and Dale Pierson will be counted on to help the Cyclone defense immediately from their end spots. Safety Qujuan Floyd has made a strong early impression as well.
*Highly-touted true freshman wide receiver Allen Lazard is running with the top groups, according to Rhoads.
* Backup senior center Ben Loth suffered a career-ending knee injury in practice on Monday. Junior Jamison Lalk will now fill in as a reserve at both center and guard.
* Redshirt freshman wide receiver Bryan Ajumobi has left the team, according to ISU spokesman Mike Green.
* For the first time since 2004, Iowa State will play every game on a Saturday, with three different bye weeks throughout the season.