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AMES, Iowa — At WHO 13 News we often honor our elders with a Senior Salute. It is a special tribute in the newscasts to grandparents and great grandparents across the state. This is a special salute to the senior class on the Iowa State University football team.

At face value, the 7-6 record this season is a disappointment, but that’s only because of a senior class that laid the foundation to raise the bar towards excellence in Ames.

The perseverance and motivation that these 23 seniors used to say, “Yes we can,” when so many most likely told them as high school seniors that you can’t win at Iowa State, will still be shaking the Jack Trice Stadium bleachers for decades after they leave.

The 20-13 loss to Clemson in the Cheez-It Bowl stings. Should Brock Purdy have slid instead of trying to gain extra yards before being stripped? Maybe, but isn’t that will to fight for more when most would be content, a trait that may have helped the Cyclones kick the program out of mediocrity?

All four of Iowa State’s Big 12 losses this season were also one-possession games. Did the Cyclones choke in the end and squander what could have been another season with a New Year’s Day bowl game? Or have these seniors created a program where beating Oklahoma is no longer a surprise?

Matt Campbell and the Cyclones have gone to five straight bowl games in the last five seasons. That’s nearly one-third of all the bowl games (17) in the nearly 130-year history of Cyclone football.

In fact, seniors Chase Allen, Jake Hummel and Eyioma Uwazurike are the first to ever play in five bowls.

From 2011 to 2018, Iowa State never had a quarterback good enough or healthy enough to start every game in a regular season. Brock Purdy ended that streak his sophomore year in 2019. The senior now leaves with 32 different school passing records, including career wins with 30.

There’s been just one three-time All-American to wear cardinal and gold. That belongs to senior tight end Charlie Kolar with school tight end records for receptions and receiving yards in a season.

There’s a lot of senior talent walking out of the Bergstrom Football Complex, including linebacker Mike Rose who is one of just two Cyclones to ever win Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

In 2020, defensive back Greg Eisworth became the first to earn all-Big 12 first team three straight years. Now, high-end recruits are noticing a bridge built off of those seniors’ resilience in the face of adversity. The December signing period recruiting class comes in ranked 22nd in the country. It’s the highest national ranking for the program by a landslide. It’s a future created by a culture, a newfound consistency and this senior class.

The Campbell Era began with the phrase “A storm is brewing.” Beginning the season ranked in the top ten and finishing 7-6 may point to rocky waters, but Cyclone fans should put on some sunglasses because the future remains bright.