AMES — It did not take long for new Iowa State University head football coach Matt Campbell to identify the special talents senior linebacker Kane Seeley possesses.
“Kane earned the job out of spring camp, which is a credit to his work ethic, his toughness and his approach to the game of football,” Campbell said at ISU’s Media Day Aug. 9. “He has football ‘smarts’ and the intangibles I like to see. His work ethic is something that caught our eye right away and I like his relentless approach.”
Among those intangibles, Campbell told ThePerryNews.com, were Seeley’s “uncompromising drive” which the coach credited, in part, to his wrestling background (Seeley was a combined 95-1 in winning state titles as a prep junior and senior). He was also quick to note “Kane’s character as an individual.”
That character and integrity were rewarded earlier this month, when the ISU Athletics Department, in partnership with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) named Seeley the Cyclone football representative to their third annual Farm Strong Team.
According to the IFBF, the team “Recognizes exceptional Iowa State student-athletes who embody the character and work ethic of Iowa’s farmers, both on and off the field. These student-athletes best exemplify the character, perseverance, and work ethic of the Iowa farmer and what it means to be an Iowan. Last year, proceeds from the sale of Farm Strong apparel also raised more than $10,000 for the Iowa Food Bank Association.”
Seeley said being named to the team was a surprise.
“I was told I was nominated for it, then didn’t hear anything until it was announced,” he said. “Obviously it is always a nice thing to be recognized, especially for something like this.
“I have always said football isn’t everything in life and I have always tried to set a good example and have a positive impact off the field,” the burly 6-2, 235-pound middle linebacker added. “It was the way I was raised — that it is important we give of ourselves whenever we can, so I have tried to volunteer for different things as much as I can.”
Given the time limitations imposed on a student playing a sport, Seeley has certainly kept himself busy as a role model. Although currently busy with both football and post-graduate studies, he has volunteered to visit Ames-area elementary schools (he has spoken with Perry students as well) and joins teammates every Friday before home games in making visits to Mary Greeley Hospital. Helping with Special Olympics and in the fight against cancer has also been on the docket.
The Cyclones recently held a “Victory Day” at Jack Trice Stadium, an event in which those with disabilities were invited to enjoy what Seeley called “the full game-day experience.”
“They were able to be in the offensive and defensive huddles and score a touchdown,” he said. “They even had the announcer calling out their names. The band was there, and the cheerleaders and dance team — the whole thing. Everyone enjoyed it.”
The first real game day will come soon enough, as ISU hosts UNI at 7 p.m. Saturday. Seeley will start at middle linebacker.
“The ‘Mike’ has to be able to recognize things and communicate them to others and Kane has shown a real good understanding of that, which you would expect from a senior and a guy who has played in 36 games,” Campbell told ThePerryNews.com. “That ability to communicate is key to leadership and Kane has it.”
“It is a great feeling,” Seeley said. “I can’t wait to get the season started. I think of all the things my teammates and I have been through and we are ready. It is nice knowing my teammates and coaches believe in me.”
Seeley said UNI is a dangerous team that every opponent they play must take seriously.
“Their quarterback, Aaron Bailey, is a great player,” he said. “He throws well on the run and can make plays with his feet. There will be opportunities for us (the ISU defense) to make plays in open space and we have to be up to the challenge. I think we will be.”
Seeley was quick to point to two areas when asked what Cyclone fans might notice as different about this year’s squad.
“Attitude and effort,” he replied. “We have a new, stronger four-quarter approach. I believe we are closer as a team, and closer between offensive and defensive units, than before. We all know we are going out there with a group of guys who are going to give it up for each other and are going to be flying around for four full quarters.”
Among the players Seeley will take the field with Saturday will be senior defensive end Mitchell Meyers, who was voted a captain by his teammates. Seeley rooms with quarterback and good friend Joel Lanning, but is probably closest to kicker Cole Netten (with whom Seeley roomed until Netten was married this summer) and Meyers.
When Meyers was diagnosed with cancer (Hodgkins Lymphoma) over 18 months ago, Seeley was quick to rally friends to Meyers side, including helping to raise over $7,000 as part of a Relay For Life team that walked in Meyers’ honor.
Seeley said at the time he hoped he would one day be starting and on the field behind Meyers, who missed all of last season. Now that Meyers is fully recovered, that dream will become a reality Saturday when number 29 starts only feet from number 58.
“Playing together is going to be very special,” Seeley said. “For us as seniors to go out there and be on the field together making memories good, bad and ugly … it will be something else. Considering even six months ago we had no idea where he (Meyers) he would be (in recovering) this is incredible. I can’t wait.”
The 16-members on the 2016-17 Farm Strong team include, besides Seeley, five Iowans: senior Hope Scheffert (Davenport North, softball), sophomore Meredith Burkhall (Des Moines Roosevelt, basketball), redshirt junior Gabe Moreno (Urbandale, wrestling) and junior Derek Jones (Glenwood, track).
Other members include Nattapan (New) Siritari (women’s golf), Koree Willer (women’s soccer), Matt Thomas (basketball), Sami Budai (tennis), Savanna Townsend (swimming and diving), Suzanne Horner (volleyball), Ruben Sondjaja (golf), Kaci Storm (women’s track), Hilary Green (gymnastics), Erin Hooker (women’s cross country) and Nate Rodriguez (cross country).
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