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Iowa State Offensive Players to Watch vs. Baylor in Week 4

Cyclones' spread offense returns seven starters from 2021, introduces new names at key positions

The Iowa State Cyclones had, at least in their minds, a disappointing season last year after garnering just seven wins following a 2020 campaign that had them at the top of the Big 12 standings.

The seven wins were, however, enough to get the Cyclones into a bowl game -- a hard-fought 20-13 loss against No. 19 Clemson, 20-13, in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29, 2021.

The Cyclones aim to bounce back this season, especially once Big 12 play begins in week 4 in Ames, Iowa, as they host the defending conference champion Baylor Bears.

Iowa State narrowly lost to Baylor, 31-29, last year at McLane Stadium, and returns seven offensive players while also introducing new names at the helm for positions such as quarterback and running back.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key Iowa State offensive players to watch against Baylor in week four as the 2022 football season looms around the corner.

QB Hunter Dekkers

Although it will be difficult to replace quarterback Brock Purdy, a four-year starter and the owner of 32 school records, redshirt sophomore Hunter Dekkers is going to do his best to live up to the high expectations.

Dekkers, a 6-3, 235-pound, left-handed slinger out of Hawarden, Iowa, is a former four-star recruit who had plenty of time to study under Purdy as a backup last season and as a redshirt freshman in 2020. He played in just four games last year, airing out 193 passing yards for two touchdowns while also racking up 61 rushing yards with two touchdowns on four carries.

WR Xavier Hutchinson

Another key player to keep an eye on is redshirt senior Xavier Hutchinson, a talented wide receiver who was awarded First Team All-Big 12 honors (chosen by coaches) in both 2020 and 2021.

Hutchinson, at 6-3 and 210 pounds, amassed 83 receptions last season for the Cyclones, a conference-leading and single-season record. He also ranked 23rd nationally in receptions per game (6.4) while pulling in 987 receiving yards -- second in the Big 12 and No. 41 nationally -- along with five touchdowns.

WR Jaylin Noel

Sophomore Jaylin Noel may be entering just his second season with Iowa State, but the Cyclones wide receiver had an incredible rookie campaign and looks to build on that in 2022.

After playing in 13 games last season (starting three), the 5-10, 185-pound receiver recorded 269 yards on 39 catches and was also the Cyclones primary kickoff and punt returner -- averaging 26 yards on 11 kickoff returns. He also led Iowa State with 54 receiving yards on four receptions in the team's Cheez-It Bowl loss to Clemson.

RB Jirehl Brock

Redshirt junior Jirehl Brock will be the Cyclones primary running back in 2022, replacing two-time consensus All-American Breece Hall, who is now playing in the NFL for the New York Jets.

Brock, at 6-0 and 215 pounds, played in all 13 games as a reserve backup and kickoff returner while averaging 4.7 yards per carry; he was third on the team in rushing yards (174) and rushed for one touchdown while catching seven passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. He also started for the Cyclones in the Cheez-It Bowl, rushing for 42 yards on 14 carries.

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