Humboldt’s Larson finds his niche at Iowa State
AMES — Bryan Larson understands what is expected out of himself and the rest of the Iowa State football program this season under head coach Matt Campbell.
After Campbell was hired to replace Paul Rhoads, he began work on getting the Cyclones to the top.
Larson, a redshirt senior who graduated in the spring, has been with the ISU program since 2013 after a standout career with Humboldt. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder is listed on the two-deeps as the second-string left guard behind starter Robby Garcia.
“Preparation (this season) for our second year with coach Campbell and his staff has been tremendous,” Larson said. “Last year we started with the basics such as learning how to practice the right way and the type of culture and vision we wanted for Iowa State football.
“Now that this has all been established, we see guys all practicing really hard without being asked to — which is a result of us trusting the process of building a winning culture. Since the groundwork has been laid, we have been able to focus on a more detail-oriented approach to this season which is what we believe is the difference in every game.
“Another factor is trust. You cannot have a winning organization in business or in sports if there is an unknown amount of trust. Now that we have had a year to know the coaching staff and for them to know us our trust level is at a very high level both player to coach and coach to player.”
Larson saw action in seven games last year as the Cyclones went 3-9. He worked mainly on special teams after seeing the field twice in 2015.
“We learned many things from our failures last season, but one thing that stood out is that we can play with any team we step on the field with,” Larson said. “It’s never an issue of talent, but rather our details.
“We believe that we will win every time we step onto the field as long as we do what we do — stick to the plan — and execute better than our opponent. As long as we continue to trust and fall in love with the process of becoming great and continue to improve every day, I’m sure the wins will take care of themselves.”
Campbell coached at Toledo prior to coming to Iowa State, going 35-13 with three bowl appearances. Last season, former and current walk-on players combined to make 57 starts for the Cyclones under Campbell.
“In the beginning it was a difficult change with so many new faces during a time of year where we challenge our bodies in difficult ways (winter offseason),” he said. “What helped ease the transition though was the staff really showing they cared about us players and about this program. They really take the time to connect with the players here which has helped us build trust.”
Iowa State returns 11 starters this year, including six on offense, and a total of 42 letterwinners. The earned wins over conference foes Kansas and Texas Tech, and lost five other games by 10 points or less.
During his time in Humboldt, Larson was a three-year letterwinner and helped the Wildcats reach the second round of the state football playoffs. He was also a two-time all-district pick and played in the Shrine Bowl.
Having already earned his degree in exercise science, Larson has started to look towards the future.
“Since graduating this past May I have kept busy by completing an internship with the strength and conditioning programs for both wrestling and swimming,” he said. “I would typically work in the early mornings over at Lied Rec Center with these teams and then spend large chunks of my afternoons training with our football strength and conditioning staff, as well as offensive line coach Tom Manning.
“This fall I will begin applying for graduate assistant coaching positions in the strength and conditioning field. I would love to stay in collegiate training while working towards a Master’s degree.
“As far as where I will end up, I have no idea at this point, but being a young guy right now is the best time I feel to potentially move somewhere farther away and gain a whole new set of experiences.”
Iowa State opens the year Sept. 2 at Jack Trice Stadium against Northern Iowa. The Panthers stunned the Cyclones last year, 25-20. They host Iowa the following week, looking to snap a four-game losing skid to the Hawkeyes.