ISU football: Seonbuchner looms large in hidden role
AMES -- The first thing people notice when they see Iowa State fullback Sam Seonbuchner is his blond, shoulder-length hair.
“Well, he’s got the best hair of anyone, so I think that part’s really positive,” coach Matt Campbell joked.
Then Seonbuchner hits an opposing player and people forget all about his hair. The 6-foot-3, 232-pound converted linebacker is tough. He’s a throwback football player who brings a defensive mindset to the offensive side of the ball.
He’s also overlooked.
He picks up blitzes on pass plays so quarterback Kyle Kempt has that extra second to make the right decision. Seonbuchner is also often the catalyst who springs big runs for running back David Montgomery.
He allows the big plays to happen.
“It’s one of those positions where whatever you do is really critical,” offensive coordinator Tom Manning said.
Until arriving at Iowa State, Seonbuchner hadn’t played on the offensive side of the ball since he was a sophomore in high school, when he was a running back or fullback. He never played offense for the varsity team.
He started at Iowa State as a linebacker, but he’s switched positions a time or two.
“The first (position change) was when Campbell first got here,” Seonbuchner said. “They thought I’d be better at defensive end, so I went to defensive end and did that for a spring. A lot of people were at defensive end, but I had a good spring so he said I’ll move you to the offensive side. Thank God he did because it’s a really good position for me.”
Campbell took note of how different his offense was last season when Seonbuchner started playing more at the fullback position.
“Last year in fall camp we moved him to that ‘F’ position,” Campbell said. “I think as you saw us play good football from the middle part of the season on a year ago -- at least look like a football team. The positive was that Sam was a huge piece of that -- lead blocking, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield -- he brings a lot to the table.”
Seonbuchner said the biggest difference between offense and defense is the reaction once the ball is snapped. On defense, he just had to react to the play and go hit someone. Now, as a lead blocker, he has to react to the defense’s reaction and then go hit someone. It takes a split second longer, but he said he’s getting used to it.
The similarities are that he still gets to hit someone.
Which is important to him.
“I like hitting,” Seonbuchner said. “It gives me an adrenaline rush. Not a lot of people like contact, but I do I guess.”
Seonbuchner and star receiver Allen Lazard were roommates their freshman year. Lazard got to know him and his energy well.
“It doesn’t matter who he’s hitting, whether it’s a cornerback or a defensive tackle that weighs 200 pounds more than him or a linebacker,” Lazard said. “He’s just going out there to square up to somebody and bring some energy.”
While fans may not notice him, opposing defenses do. During the Texas Tech game, he noticed that all the eyes were on him. The Red Raiders were trying to read him and set their defense accordingly.
“He’s just got something about him where he’s not afraid to throw it in there and I think that gets everyone fired up,” Manning said. “I tell him all the time he’s kind of like Larry Bird. He drives (opponents) crazy. Right before the whistle he’s flying by them -- he doesn’t really know what that means, but I think that’s a pretty good compliment.”