Farm Strong: From the farm to the football field
Trevor Downing's dad bought three whole rib-eyes when he heard Iowa State University's football offensive line was visiting the family's farm in late July. As expected the rib-eyes didn't last long.
Gone that first night,” said Trevor with a chuckle, who coordinated the O-line trip to his family’s Creston farm for a get-together before fall camp began.
“We went boating, hung out and ate some great food, but no farm work,” he laughed. “It was just great to get together.
“Everything we do, we do together. We’re a close-knit group on and off the field.”
It wouldn’t have been out of the question if this hungry group would have jumped in and helped on the farm.
The work ethic, dedication and commitment that creates a successful team has vaulted the Cyclones into a Big 12 top-tier program the past few years.
“It’s the hungriest I’ve seen this team,” said Downing, a 6-foot 5-inch, 300-pound redshirt-senior center and leader of the offensive line.
Cyclone Head Coach Matt Campbell points to Downing’s intelligence and high-end talent as keys to the decision to move him to center for the 2022 season, a position he played only once last season in ISU’s bowl game against Clemson.
From a philosophical point of view, high intellectual ability and talent are needed for this critical position, said Campbell, and Downing has both.
“(Trevor) I feel is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the country coming back,” Campbell said.
“The ability to move him in to the center position … I think that’s a huge win for Iowa State football.”
Downing’s leadership traits — a strong work ethic, commitment and integrity — landed him on the 2021-22 Farm Strong® Squad, a partnership between Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa State Athletics Department that honors 16 student-athletes (one from each sport) for their leadership and shared values.
Cyclone student-athletes share much with Iowa’s farmers with respect to leadership qualities, and the Farm Strong® Squad exemplifies the honorable characteristics of farmers and Iowans, setting a positive example for not only their teams but for their communities as well.
Downing said he is proud to be a part of the Farm Strong® Squad initiative. He, too, points to his ag upbringing as critical to his development as a player and teammate.
“I grew up from a young age working on the farm, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at night,” he said. “Long days, kind of like football. They kind of go hand in hand.”
He also credits his family for cultivating his work ethic and drive.
“I enjoy being around my family,” he said, “and the (satisfaction) that comes with working together to accomplish a common goal in the end.”
Downing spent the summer working out, lifting weights and getting ready for the season, but also took some time on the farm baling hay, a task he enjoys.
“It helps put me in a good mindset,” he said.
He and the 15 other Farm Strong® student-athletes have been honored throughout the year via in-game recognitions, on social media, on a mural at the Hilton Coliseum concourse and at the annual Cyclone Scholar-Athlete banquet.
Downing is getting some regional and national accolades, most recently being named to the Lombardi Watch List, presented annually to an offensive/defensive lineman who best exemplifies the character/discipline of NFL Hall of Fame Coach Vince Lombardi; the Outland Trophy watch list, presented by the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s top offensive/defensive interior lineman; and the Rimington Trophy preseason watch list, presented to the nation’s top center.
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