Cyclone linebacker Mike Rose has become one of the best at his position in all of college football, causing players such as fellow seniors O’Rien Vance and Jake Hummel to not get the recognition that their teammates and coaches feel they deserve.
The two have been staples for the Iowa State defense, each starting all twelve games for the team during the 2020 season.
Vance was awarded PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP after finishing the game with a pair of fumble recoveries, but this success was not a one time occurrence for him last season. Vance finished third on the team in total tackles with 68, in addition to six tackles for loss.
As for Hummel he finished second on the team last season with 77 tackles, over a season in which he finished as an honorable mention for the Coaches All-Big 12 teams. Vance earned the same honor as Hummel during the 2019 season.
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell credited Vance and Hummel as being some of the most consistent players on defense when talking about his trio of starting linebackers, saying if you talk about Rose then you can't leave out Vance and Hummel.
“You can’t talk about O’Rien Vance without talking about Jake Hummel, because in my opinion those two players are outstanding," Campbell said. "Mike [Rose] gets a lot of credit, but when you sit back and study the video tape and see the consistency that Jake Hummel has played with, what he has meant to our defense and obviously what O’Rien has done is nothing short of exceptional.”
Campbell’s thoughts are very similar to those of 2020 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Mike Rose, who believes that without Hummel and Vance, he would not have been able to be considered one of the best defensive players in the Big 12.
“When guys like [O’Rien] and Jake do their job, and they do that at a high level. People may get the glory, but you have to remember all of those guys that are doing their job so that you can make the play,” Rose said. “A lot of my success should be attributed to them, because I could not do it without them.”
Both Vance and Hummel walked down different paths in order to become starters at the linebacker position. Vance redshirted his first season with Iowa State and was a reserve during his second season. Hummel spent a season as a special teams player before spending two seasons as a reserve linebacker.
Linebackers coach Tyson Veidt believes that this path has helped the two become great leaders for the young players.
“I think they have helped a great amount with all of the younger guys,” Veidt said. “They’ve embraced the younger guys behind them. They cheer for those guys just as loudly.”
The attention that Hummel has gotten will not get to his head, as he practices with the mindset that despite his strong play in the previous season, his starting spot is never safe.
“I had to step my game up to prove to Coach Veidt and Coach Campbell that I am still the number one guy here.” Hummel said. “It definitely makes us starters better when you have good back ups.”
Hummel and Vance have not gotten a ton of recognition from college football media and fans, but they are two key pieces to an Iowa State team that allowed the least points per game in the Big 12 last season.