Avoiding 'ego or fear' key for Iowa State football quarterback Hunter Dekkers in early success

Travis Hines
Des Moines Register

AMES – Hunter Dekkers spent the morning of his first collegiate start waiting.

After two years of buildup, two years of being the understudy to the most accomplished quarterback in school history and two years of anticipation, the moment where Dekkers’ career truly would begin was at the precipice. 

With so much on the line, Dekkers figured he’d have to stare fear and apprehension in the face. 

He was wrong.

“I was kind of expecting to have some sort of nerves going into this game,” he said. “The whole day I was expecting it to show up and it never did. 

“The minute I ran out there on that first drive and I got behind the center and (the nerves) still weren’t there. I was like, ‘Alright, let’s roll.’” 

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The lack of nerves gave way to plenty of production for Dekkers, who was 25-of-31 for 293 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in his starting debut last week against Southeast Missouri. 

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell credited Dekkers’ preparation both for his production and gameday demeanor. 

“What stimulates you not having your most success or playing to your full potential?” Campbell said. “It’s either ego – I think I’m really good so my process isn’t great throughout the week – or it’s fear. 

“The one thing about Hunter is you never see either of those. You see him diligently working at his craft so when he’s ready to play, he’s very confident about what he’s supposed to do, his reads, where he’s supposed to go with the ball. Hunter is extremely coachable. There has never been a sense of ego and entitlement from how he carries himself.” 

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Dekkers’ calmness could also be attributable to some real experience. 

While last Saturday was his first start, the West Sioux graduate appeared in three games during mop-up time as a true freshman. 

His first true taste of competition, though, came last year, when he relieved a struggling Brock Purdy in the second half against Iowa, the Cyclones’ opponent this week (3 p.m.; BTN). Dekkers performed admirably (11-of-16, 114 yards and a touchdown), but couldn’t rally Iowa State past the Hawkeyes, who have won six-straight in the series. 

“Hunter was continuing to make great strides last football season,” Campbell recalled. “You felt really comfortable you had two guys that could play at a really high level for your football team. 

“What Hunter brought us in that game was a spark and steadied the ship for us during that football game.” 

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Dekkers saw firsthand last year what Iowa’s defense can do to opposing quarterbacks as Purdy, owner of almost every major quarterback record at Iowa State, threw three interceptions. The Hawkeyes appear again to be strong on that side of the ball after allowing just three points to South Dakota State in their opener. 

“Getting our quarterback in a groove is the biggest challenge for us going into this game,” center Trevor Downing said. 

Dekkers’ debut and his ability to move the ball against the Hawkeyes last year gives the Cyclones confidence their offense will be able to strike against Iowa. 

“He has way more reps,” Xavier Hutchinson, who caught three Dekekers touchdowns against SEMO, said. “He knows he’s the guy.  

“When you know you’re the guy, you’re going to prepare a little bit different.” 

Travis Hines covers Iowa State University sports for the Des Moines Register and Ames Tribune. Contact him at or  (515) 284-8000. Follow him at @TravisHines21.