GRAY: What does Cousin’s departure mean for ISU’s D-line?

 Devlyn Cousin’s social media surprises hit the Iowa State fan base like a ton of bricks.

 In essence, the 6-2, 291-pound sophomore defensive tackle expected to play a substantial role in a rebuilt line announced today he’s walking away from the team.

 So much for depth. So much for finishing fall two-a-days free of serious injuries — since the result of Cousin’s decision equates to a two-deep guy going down with a season-ending ACL tear.

 Cousin, listed No. 2 on the fall camp depth chart, had 12 tackles and one sack in nine games last season. 

 “It is with a heavy heart that I am sad to say I will no longer be playing football for iowa state university,” Cousin said on Twitter and Instagram. “I have made the decision to continue my career else where I will not forget the people I met and the friendships I made during my career at Iowa state. The brotherhood the bond I’m going to miss it all.”

 First, I hope the best for the young man from Georgia. None of us — except those closest to him — know what factors affected his decision to leave the Cyclones’ program.

 Second, about that depth: It seemed to be in place at least somewhat for this 2015 defensive line.

 We know nose guard Demond Tucker is a “maximum effort guy,” meaning he can’t play every single snap because he burns up fuel furiously (and that’s a good thing).

 We’ve also heard positive things about the guy who sat No. 1 on the depth chart at D-tackle, Pierre Aka. He leapfrogged Cousin to reach that top spot, but he’s made zero career starts and has overcome numerous injuries.

 Cousin played through extreme pain himself, missing three games with a severe elbow injury that bothered him most of last season. Maybe that had an impact on his decision to leave. Maybe not.

 What’s certain is the ISU D-line is down a man in the interior, which, bare minimum, lessens the carefully re-developed depth at the position. 

 Others can step up, of course.

 Vernell Trent saw way-too-early duty last season, which could serve him well as he backs up Tucker.

 Robby Garcia also saw plenty of snaps before he’d fully acclimated to playing D-line at the D-I level, and he’ll likely slide into the primary backup spot behind Aka. 

 And let’s not forget late-arriving JUCO standout Bobby Leath, who likely will make some noise as the season wears on. If his learning and conditioning curve accelerates, Cousin’s absence may end up being a blip on the radar. 

 Still, Cousin’s decision served as a downer amid a remarkably upbeat camp. No amount of spin can change that. Only the actions of the guys who’ve stuck around can. 

 Paul Rhoads said he met with Cousin after Wednesday’s practice and offered the following statement via Iowa State Athletics Communications:

 “Devlyn and I met last night and he informed me of his decision to leave the football team and his intention to transfer to a school that is a better fit for him,” Rhoads said. “He is going to stay in school at Iowa State for the rest of the fall semester and we will help him in the transfer process. We wish him success in his future."


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.

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