When ISU offensive coordinator Mark Mangino started his search for a new offensive line coach, only one name came to mind: Brandon Blaney.
It turned out to be a pretty easy sell for Mangino too, as coach Paul Rhoads was quick to add Blaney to his staff. And in his time here, Blaney has already made quite the impression on Rhoads.
“It was the first and only name out of his mouth,” Rhoads said. “Brandon gets after it on the practice field. He’s very commanding and decisive, and he’s uncanny in his ability to see 22 guys out on the field come game day. When I walk into the staff room and listen to them, I can see that immediately from him.”
Blaney joins the Cyclones after spending the last three years with the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL. Before his time in the pros, Blaney coached at Kansas under Mangino, who was the Jayhawks' head coach.
The pair’s connection is evident to all involved with the program, and that’s something Blaney says makes the transition much smoother.
“Any time you take over on a job as a position coach and you have a level of history with the coordinator, it really makes the transition so much easier,” Blaney said. “The best part about working with someone you have that history with is that you already know what the expectations are. Not only that, but they know what’s expected of you. There’s a certain level of trust, and that filters down to the players too.”
Blaney’s been with the team for just a short time, but he says he can already see something special forming on the offensive line. In fact, Blaney feels this group stands out above any other he has coached.
“The biggest thing you see is their incredible enthusiasm,” Blaney said. “I have never been around a group of guys more enthusiastic about getting out on the field and trying to grasp what we're trying to do. The challenge for me is to keep the enthusiasm rolling with these guys.”
The Cyclones are returning several guys to the offensive line, including seven upperclassman. This is a big improvement from last season, as the line entered with very little experience overall.
The experience the group is coming in with should really speed the process of a new coach along, and that’s something Blaney knows will pay off in the long run.
“Any time you get experience out there and get a chance to compete, that’s huge,” Blaney said. “I’m hoping that I don’t see a lot of white eyes come opening day. The sense of mystery is gone, so my job is to equip those guys with the skills and system in place.”
While the season doesn’t start for another five months, Blaney is already looking ahead. And in his time at Iowa State, he can already tell that his guys have what it takes to win.
“I think it’s a pretty athletic group,” Blaney said. “There’s a good group of athletes that are out there, and there’s a certain level of toughness I see with these guys. I’ve got a veteran group with guys who have been in the fire and know what it takes to win in the Big 12 right now, and that’s exciting as a coach.”