Iowa State has never had a storied history of producing elite linebackers.
In contrast to programs such as USC or Michigan, with well-known reputations of producing all-time great linebackers, the Iowa State has never been mistaken for being one of them. When studying their history, we could point to only two that went on to have successful careers at the next level; Merv Krakau and Matt Blair. In their most recent history, Buffalo Bills linebacker A.J Klein, was once a two time first-team All-Big 12 with the Cyclones, and was the Big 12's co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
In 2018, linebacker Mike Rose came to Iowa State and from day one, was ready to make an impact. In his freshman season, he started 13 games and in those games, he accumulated 75 total tackles, 9.5 of them were tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. His play garnered national attention, as he was given first-team freshman All-American status, as well as well as All-Big 12 honorable mention.
Even with national recognition, Rose simply viewed himself as a kid that enjoyed playing the game. Considering that it had been years since a Cyclones defensive player earned such recognition, he had the mindset and maturity of a player that made him different from everyone else.
In his sophomore season Rose made the move to outside linebacker. Even with this change, Rose did not suffer the dreaded sophomore jinx, rather he elevated. In their week six victory over West Virginia, Rose did a bit of everything. In addition to nine total tackles, he converged on a sack and forced a fumble. Two weeks later, he got his first career interception in their loss to Oklahoma State. By the end of that season, Rose increased his total tackles to 77, along with 3.5 sacks, three passed defended and an interception.
There are few linebackers like Rose, who play with his brand of tempo and his intensity. This upcoming season, his presence alone should be enough for the Cyclones to build upon their 7-6 record from 2019. As for Rose, this season should allow to build on his legacy as arguably the greatest linebacker in program history. For a program that have had few like him, that is something to proud of.