It would be difficult to find many players or coaches on the Iowa State football roster that spend a lot of time talking about individual accomplishments or feats. Success, they’ll likely say, is most often attributed to the sum of the parts and a collective effort.


Of course ISU didn’t get to eight-win marks and two bowl appearances with any one individual, but a collection of those efforts highlighted the journey. Remember Allen Lazard and Kyle Kempt at Oklahoma? How about Brock Purdy at Oklahoma State? Marcel Spears’ game-changing interceptions also stand tall. David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler always delivered too.


With Big 12 media days just four weeks away, Campbell and ISU will be looking to another group of individuals to lead the collective and produce a few more moments to help the Cyclones win at least eight games for the third-straight season — a first since 1976-78.


The Ames Tribune is taking a look at the 10 most important players, regardless of position, that can make the greatest impact on a successful 2019 campaign. Rankings are subjective, players listed were all part of the 2018 team and the offense and defense are intermingled — special teams are excluded. Let’s get going.


1. Brock Purdy, Quarterback


Since he stepped on the field in Stillwater and led ISU to a key road win, the honorable mention all-Big 12 pick has had the quarterback position locked up. He set school records in completion percentage in a single season, passing efficiency and 300-yard games. He went 6-1 against Big 12 teams in games he started, and guided the team to a 7-2 record as the primary quarterback.


What Purdy does for an encore, when every team on the schedule knows he’s the guy, is the most pressing question.


Purdy takes the top spot as the most important player for the Cyclones in 2019 not just because he plays the most high-profile position, but also because of the relative instability ISU has had there the last decade — Austen Arnaud is the last player to start every game at quarterback (2008). Purdy, because of his dual-threat ability and foundation as a freshman is poised to stop the carousel, but there are plenty of variables involved within the offense.


Having Tom Manning on staff gives Purdy another voice and resource, which is particularly important given the roster turnover. Montgomery and Butler are gone, so Kene Nwangwu, Sheldon Croney, Tarique Milton and Deshaunte Jones will be leaned on heavily. And there’s the offensive line. That group will have to be at or near it’s best to help Purdy flourish.


2. Ray Lima, Defensive tackle


Unless you are specifically watching what he does snap after snap on the interior defensive line, it could be easy to overlook what Lima has done to make ISU one of the best defensive units in the Big 12. His numbers won’t show it, but he is arguably one of the most essential and transformational players the Cyclones have had this decade. He affects everything.


He started 12 of 13 games last year — he missed the West Virginia game due to a concussion — and tallied 34 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. His greatest contribution, however, comes via the production from linebackers like Marcel Spears and Mike Rose. Those two are effective in their own right, but Lima consistently takes on double teams and creates mismatches inside.


With JaQuan Bailey and Enyi Uwazurike returning on either side of him, Lima could finally be in for a year where his numbers match the intangible presence he gives ISU up front.


3. Tarique Milton, Wide receiver


At under 6-feet (5-foot-10, according to the ISU roster), Milton won’t have the size to overwhelm Big 12 defensive backs, or produce as mahy highlight reel catches in the red zone as the man he’s replacing, Hakeem Butler, but he has one thing in spades: speed.


Milton will likely fill in the ‘X’ receiver spot, a shift from inside to out. The luxury for ISU is that Milton played primarily outside other than last year, and getting him on the field at the same time as Jones, the likely ‘M’ receiver, could give that position group versatility. The main difference, though, will be the rep increases per game going from the 40-45 neighborhood to 60-65.


Milton was third in receptions (34) and second in receiving yards (417) last season, and will give a unique look, particularly when compared to newcomers La’Michael Pettway and Darren Wilson, an Arkansas graduate transfer and Butler Community College transfer, respectively.


4. Kene Nwangwu, Running back


Replacing Montgomery, who was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears this spring, isn’t a task with an easy solution. But Nwangwu, despite the inconsistency with which he has seen reps at running back in his young career, is a comforting option.


At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Nwangwu isn’t the bruiser Montgomery was, but was nicknamed “Dash” by former running backs coach Lou Ayeni for his breakaway speed — he is often talked about as the fastest player on the 100-plus man squad. Nwangwu is primed to take a bigger role in 2019, but will have plenty of company in the backfield while things get sorted out.


Sheldon Croney is back as a senior. Johnnie Lang, a scat-back type player, is there too. Then there are freshmen Breece Hall, a midyear enrollee, and Jirehl Brock, who arrived on campus a few weeks before the rest of the freshman class. Where the flow of the season takes ISU with its running backs is unknown, but it’s safe to guess Nwangwu will be at the forefront in the immediate aftermath of the Montgomery era.


5. Greg Eisworth, Safety


A former high school quarterback and Ole Miss signee, Eisworth came into the program a year and a half ago as one of the most crucial signees of the class. His production, ultimately proved to be invaluable as he provided the connective tissue for the front seven and back end of the defense.


Eisworth was named the Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year last year and started all 12 games he played, leading the team in tackles five times. His unique blend of physical prowess with an intellectual approach to the game helped him stand out. With an overhauled secondary in 2019, Eisworth’s ability to play his role effectively is even more vital.


6. Chase Allen, Tight end


Injuries have thrown Allen’s career off the tracks a couple different times in his career, but the rising redshirt junior is healthy and ready to contribute. How ISU chooses to utilize him, however, could go a few different ways.


Charlie Kolar looked the part of a starting tight end during a breakout rookie season last year, and Dylan Soehner, at 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, is a likely candidate to be a full back/tight end hybrid. Allen is built like a big receiver, meaning he could slide in anywhere.


Given the inexperience of the wide receivers outside Milton and Jones, Allen could be a bridge while the likes of Sean Shaw, Joseph Scates and Landen Akers come into their own.


7. JaQuan Bailey, Defensive end


The rising senior has played in all 38 games the last three years, and will leave as one of the best defensive ends in school history and likely with a career sacks record to show for it. His 46 tackles in 2018 led all ISU defensive linemen. And as much as the upcoming year will be key on its own, his ability to bring along the younger players in the room is just as important.


Zach Petersen, Blake Peterson and even defensive tackle Isaiah Lee will all be looking to the likes of Bailey and Lima for guidance. But that veteran tandem, combined with Uwazurike on the opposite side of the odd front, could make the unit a top-three position in the Big 12.


8. Datrone Young, Cornerback


This spot could just as well be reserved for Anthony Johnson, which speaks to its importance. Datrone Young and Johnson are taking over for multi-year starters D’Andre Payne and Brian Peavy. The experience each got last year, however, should provide some reassurance. At least a little bit.


Young, nicknamed “Speedy”, started three games last year and played in eight, but suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Kansas, clearing the way for Johnson to fill his spot the remainder of the year. The depth chart after those two is riddled with inexperience, but having the foundation that Young and Johnson provide is at least a starting point for new cornerbacks coach Matt Caponi.


9. Mike Rose, Linebacker


Rose proved to be one of the best freshman defensive players in the country last year, starting fall camp as a relative unknown to starting all 13 games in the heart of the defense. He was fourth on the team with 75 tackles and recovered a fumble recovery for a touchdown in a come-from-behind win against Kansas State.


Similar to Purdy, Rose has a lot of demands placed on him because of the position he plays. Having Eisworth behind him, Spears to his side and Lima in front provides enough stability where Rose, once again, is set up well to read each offensive set correctly. Adding on 10 to 15 pounds of playing weight also builds confidence.


10. Julian Good-Jones, Offensive line


Josh Knipfel and Colin Newell are key cogs to the jump the offensive line needs to make in 2019, but Good-Jones might be the most important. He has 37 career starts over the last three years, and has played across the line in each. He spent time as a right tackle as a freshman, center as a sophomore and left tackle as a junior.


Staying put at left tackle, even with the ups and downs he experienced last year, is imperative for Good-Jones. Maintaining some sense of stability and continuity is not only the clearest path for him to improve, but helps the line as a whole. Trevor Downing and Joey Ramos will certainly be waiting in the wings to play significant reps, but Good-Jones’ experience can’t be discounted in helping the line finally reach its potential in year four of the Matt Campbell era.