Iowa State end zone project set to start in 2019

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AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State is moving closer to the day when lack of facilities will no longer be an excuse for a lack of success.

The Cyclones announced Wednesday that construction on its new football performance center is expected to start next spring. The complex, which the Iowa Board of Regents approved in April, will include an academic and nutrition center as well as a new plaza and stadium entrance beyond its north end zone.

Athletic director Jamie Pollard said it's not yet clear when the project might be complete.

Iowa State essentially enclosed its south end zone with new seating and a large sports bar in a $60 million project ahead of the 2015 season. That was part of a push to get its once-lagging facilities up to par with its Big 12 rivals.

A significant portion of the funding for the new project will come from Mid-American Energy, which Iowa State will reward by re-branding its stadium MidAmerican Field at Jack Trice Stadium.

"The project itself is still in the development stage with the architects," Pollard said. "To say that this is the date it will start is still too premature ... but we fully expect and hope that when the frost comes out of the ground next spring that we would start it. How fast will it be completed? It's a complex project."

Iowa State opens its season on Sept. 1 against South Dakota State. Fall workouts start Thursday.

The Cyclones are coming off one of their best seasons in years, going 8-5 with all five losses coming by 10 points or less.

Coach Matt Campbell said his team is essentially 100 percent entering camp, which is a good thing for a program seeking difference makers at a number of spots.

Two of the more intriguing players who could give Iowa State a boost in 2018 are defensive linemen Matt Leo and Kamilo Tongamoa, two junior college recruits who didn't make a much of a dent last season and are currently listed as backups. Leo, a junior from Australia, is listed behind sophomore Enyi Uwazurike. Tongamoa, a senior, will back up talented tackle Ray Lima.

"They pass the look test," Campbell said. "Both of those guys we're counting on."

At quarterback, the competition to be Kyle Kempt's backup will be fierce, with sophomore Zeb Noland and freshmen Devon Moore, Re-al Mitchell and Brock Purdy all in the mix.

"I really think that room is as good as it's been since I've been here," said Campbell, now in his third season.

The Cyclones will also get a chance this month to get a deeper look at sophomore running back Kene Nwangwu, who was one of the nation's top kick returners in 2016 before missing last season with an Achilles injury. Should Nwangwu look healthy in camp, expect Iowa State to find ways to get him on the field beyond kickoffs.

"Two years ago we saw speed makes a difference," Campbell said. "He certainly gives us a spark."

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