Editor's note: The Iowa State Daily Sports Desk will have a spring preview of each position group for the Cyclones heading into the 2021 season. You can find other position group stories here.
Prior to the start of spring practice, Iowa State football hired a fresh face on the defensive staff in Deon Broomfield as the safeties coach.
Broomfield has a unique perspective with him, with collegiate experience as well as professional experience at the NFL level.
He is a former Cyclone (2009-2013) and earned a spot on the Buffalo Bills practice squad.
With everything coming full circle, the Cyclones head into the 2021 season with Broomfield as the safeties coach and a new approach to a vital position group for the Cyclones.
Broomfield’s coaching journey
The desire to coach is something Broomfield said had been on his mind before he got into the NFL as a player.
“Before I even joined the Buffalo Bills, I really wanted to start coaching,” Broomfield told reporters Wednesday. “I actually did an internship at Ohio Wesleyan before I joined the Buffalo Bills, I saw some spring ball practices, and really it was the opportunity of a lifetime to really go in there.”
Since his playing days with the Bills ended in 2015, Broomfield has had many stops on his journey to Iowa State.
He started his coaching career as a safeties coach in 2015 at Carthage College, then went on to coach the cornerbacks at Western Illinois in 2016 before coaching cornerbacks from 2017-19 at Indiana State. He spent last season as a defensive assistant for the Houston Texans in the NFL.
Most of his coaching career has consisted of coaching players in the secondary, but Broomfield said things were a little different with the Texans.
“I want to say it was really enlightening for me. Because, you know, my role was helping the secondary, but at the same time, I had a global perspective on all 11 on defense,” Broomfield said. “I was able to learn run fits, I was able to learn some defensive line play within my role.”
While coaching at different levels presents different challenges, Broomfield said some things don’t change from level to level.
“Everybody has his different, unique challenges per say, but I think from a coaching perspective, what doesn't change is the fundamentals and the techniques,” Broomfield said.
Broomfield was brought on staff Feb. 19.
In his short time at Iowa State, Broomfield has made it a priority to get to know his players off the field, according to redshirt senior Greg Eisworth.
“He does a really good job with that, the personal side of everything, really getting to know us, he wanted to make sure that was something that we knew was important to him was just getting to know us as a person outside of football first,” Eisworth said.
This spring practice period is the first opportunity the Cyclone safeties have had to adjust to Broomfield’s coaching style.
Eisworth said during this time, they have gotten to hear the experiences Broomfield had as a player at Iowa State as well as in the NFL.
“I think just with his experience from playing here, to playing at the level that a lot of us got to try to get to, I think what he says holds weight because he's lived what we're living now,” Eisworth said.
Back in February, Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell said the addition of Broomfield was an opportunity for the program to grow and said his experience is huge for the players.
“I think it's huge for our players to see somebody that was in their shoes at one point that had the ability to have success and go on and play into the next level, then also see to somebody that was in their shoes, succeeding in their professional field at the next level,” Campbell said. "So I just think this is just a huge win for us in our program.”
Broomfield’s recruiting pitch
With Broomfield being a coach that used to play at Iowa State, he is able to provide a unique perspective, which could be beneficial on the recruiting trail.
Broomfield said he’s not trying to sell recruits on the dream of playing Division I football, but rather his experience playing Division I football.
“I'm not reading from a guide, I'm not reading from a book, you know, I'm telling you from a personal experience, and I'm not selling you a dream, I'm selling you a reality that I've seen it," Broomfield said. “I've logged it and I had that perspective that I can sell to guys; it's not really selling because it's true, and I think guys understand that.”
Broomfield said it’s easy for him to give that pitch because he’s “been in their shoes before.”
“I've walked in these hallways and I've played on the field, I've done those things, I think when you can do that, and you can tell guys that, I think it kind of hits in a different manner,” Broomfield said.
Recruiting has looked a lot different in the last year because of COVID-19, which has required coaches to change their recruiting pitch.
“It all comes down to presenting, first yourself and the program in a first-class manner and however you got to do that, that's just kind of the circumstances right now,” Broomfield said. “You gotta do it over Zoom and you gotta do it over FaceTime without those guys getting on campus.”
Eisworth’s leadership role
One of the players Broomfield praised during Wednesday’s press conference was Eisworth.
The Grand Prairie, Texas, native has made a name for himself in his tenure at Iowa State.
He has three All-Big 12 First Team honors, the only player to have that honor since the Big 12’s inception in 1996.
“I believe Greg really brings a sense of maturity and a leadership presence to the room,” Broomfield said. “He understands that and I think that was part of him coming back is to provide that to the younger guys.”
Broomfield said Eisworth sets the standard for younger guys in the room.
“He sets the standard for everyone in the room, and I don't shy away from holding him to that standard,” Broomfield said.
Broomfield said it's on him as a coach to enforce that standard.
“He does the things that take no talent. So I think from that standpoint, for a coach, I got to make sure the younger guys in the room understand that he is the standard,” Broomfield said.
With Eisworth being one of the team’s most consistent producers and being a senior, being a leader may be expected of him.
Eisworth said he wants to be in that leadership role and the encouragement from Broomfield helps.
“I've always taken it upon myself to be that leader, but when coach says during a meeting ‘Greg, stand up and explain this,’ or asks me certain questions, that just amplifies that role for me,” Eisworth said.
Eisworth, who played at Trinity Valley Community College before coming to Iowa State, has played in 36 games in three seasons, totaling 33 starts.
He’s had 199 tackles, nine for a loss, 19 pass deflections and three interceptions in his three seasons at Iowa State.