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Iowa State football 2021 got better Sunday — Charlie Kolar and Greg Eisworth are returning

Randy Peterson
Des Moines Register
Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar (R-So.) (88) reacts after catching a touchdown pass during their football game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 in Ames. After a two hour rain delay, Iowa State would take a 21-03 lead over TCU into halftime.

Add an All-American tight end and an All-Big 12 starting safety to the impressive list of Iowa State football players returning next season.

Charlie Kolar and Greg Eisworth both said on social media Sunday morning they’ll be parts of what could be an exciting and expectation-filled 2021 season.

Both have been rock-solid in helping the Cyclones to an impressive three-season run that includes a Fiesta Bowl victory, playing in the Big 12 championship game for the first time, and winning 24 of 38 games, including 19 of 27 against conference opponents.

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They’re the most recent additions of players already stating their intention to be part of next season’s team, including:

Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, Mike Rose, Chase Allen, Sean Foster, Jake Hummel, Connor Assalley and Enyi Uwazurike.

Those players (except for Hall) either chose not to enter the NFL Draft or decided to take advantage of a super-senior season of eligibility the NCAA allowed athletes during the coronavirus pandemic. Hall was a sophomore and ineligible for the draft for another year.

"So grateful for the commitment of so many to continue to want to build our program together," coach Matt Campbell wrote on Twitter Sunday. "Our foundation has been built on Loyalty and Faithfulness and it will continue to be our guiding light. Humbled and Grateful to continue to lead to be different."

Kolar was the most prominent of a three tight end alignment that created mismatches throughout the field. The junior caught 44 passes for 591 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a big-time end zone receiver and combined with Allen, the tight end position should be very good again. Dylan Soehner, the third of the three-headed tight end position, announced that he’s not returning for a second senior season.

Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Greg Eisworth (12) runs the football after his interception against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Red Raiders 40 to 31.

The return of Eisworth, who has started 16 consecutive games, means at least one starting safety will be back. Lawrence White, the other starter, has decided to pursue the draft.

All of this means Iowa State will have 19 starters from the Fiesta’s 34-17 victory against Oregon returning — 10 on offense and nine on defense.

“The bottom line is that we'll have experience next season,” Purdy said after the program’s first New Year’s Six game. “And so, when you have a team with a lot of experience, I think you can do a lot of things. That's what we'll have next year.”

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writing for the Des Moines Register for parts of six decades. Reach him at rpeterson@dmreg.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.