T.J. Tampa, with all-conference expectations heading into senior season, praised as a player and leader

Published: Aug. 5, 2023 at 10:47 PM CDT
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AMES, Iowa (KCRG) - As a 2022 All-Big 12 second team selection, and a preseason All Big 12 honoree, T.J. Tampa is the most decorated player on Iowa State’s defense.

He says that has given him motivation to be a better leader.

“I know there’s a lot of players here that look up to me, and I want to be that role model,” said Tampa. “I’ve got a lot of experience and I’m pouring that experience into the younger guys making sure they know what to do and don’t make the same mistakes I did.”

Tampa’s physical gifts are obvious, but it’s what he does off the field that stands out to teammate and fellow defensive back Beau Freyler.

“He’s an elite player and elite person. He brings a lot to the team, especially on the field, but also in the locker room,” said the junior Freyler. “He’s working on his craft every single day. He’s got a really high ceiling.”

Tampa is one of a handful of new standard bearers for an Iowa State defense that’s been at the top of the Big 12. In 2022, they allowed 20.3 points per game. That number was 20.6 in 2021 and 21.4 in 2020.

“I‘ve been taught the standard. Now I’m teaching the standard,” Tampa said.

The John Heacock-led Cyclone defense has been in the top 50 nationally in scoring defense each of the last six years.

“It’s definitely not a talent thing,” Tampa said. “From the number one person on the depth chart all the way to the walk-ons. Everybody needs to uphold the standard.”