Colby Isbell, #90

Alec McChesney, Sports Editor

Four years ago, current Missouri State defensive lineman Colby Isbell was selected as the Northwest Arkansas Defensive Lineman of the Year. The following year, in 2014, Isbell appeared in every game as a freshman for MSU, collecting 30 tackles, four tackles for a loss and three sacks.

For his performance, he earned a FCS Freshman All-America honor, picking up a MVFC Newcomer of the Week Award as well as the College Sporting News FCS National All-Star award.

The accolades as a freshman were impressive, but that was only the beginning for Isbell. As a sophomore in 2015, Isbell took over the Bears’ defensive line, starting every game. In those starts, he collected 44 tackles and eight tackles for a loss.

Dakota Student / Submitted
Missouri State defensive lineman Colby Isbell (center right) celebrates a play last season. The Fighting Hawks will face the Missouri State Bears during Saturday’s Potato Bowl matchup.

Isbell, 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, started to see interest from NFL scouts – partly because current Houston Texans’ linebacker Dylan drew scouts from all over. Though, he fully cemented the idea of him playing on Sundays.

Starting all 11 games at right defensive end, Isbell was selected to the All-MVFC Second Team for his play. He finished the year with 12 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Averaging 1.1 tackles for loss per game, Isbell ranked in the Top 100 nationally and sixth in the MVFC.

Against Southwestern in the 2016 season opener, Isbell had seven tackles, with 5.5 of them for a loss and 2.5 sacks, leading the Bears to a 57-0 victory. For his performance, he was recognized as the MSU Media Player of the Week.

In the spring semester, Isbell earned his way onto the MSU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and the MVFC Honor Roll. Now, however, it’s time for Isbell to help change the culture at MSU, while making his mark on NFL scouts across the country.

The Bears have struggled immensely since his sophomore season, but things are looking in the right direction. Despite falling to the Mizzou Tigers in Week 1, Isbell was productive on the defensive line, picking up a sack along the way.

More important than the numbers, Isbell must continue to step up as a leader on the team, as the Bears are looking for someone to take over the defensive locker room without Cole. Isbell figures to slide perfectly into this position during the 2017 season, which will only help him and the Bears.

Alec McChesney is the Sports Editor for The Standard. He can be reached at [email protected]