AMES, Iowa — Jeremiah George is typically the first Iowa State University player to show for the athlete interview portion of the Cyclone football program's weekly press conference on Monday.
George also is usually the first guy, or one of the first guys, to reach the interview room following a game, win or lose. He answers each and every question articulately and thanks reporters at the end of the interview.
That is a sign of a stand-up, respected individual.
It's also probably safe to say, George, the senior middle linebacker from Clearwater, Fla., is one of the first Cyclones to the practice field and one of the first players into the weight room on scheduled lifting days.
It's what ISU head coach Paul Rhoads loves about George, one of the Cyclones captains this season.
"Jeremiah has been the same guy leading with what he has been saying, how he has been practicing and you are seeing that level of play on the field," Rhoads said.
It's also George's day-to-day approach that Rhoads says has kept the team together despite its 1-7 record with no chance of a bowl game.
Rhoads made a point of thanking George and fellow senior captains Ernst Brun, James White and Jeff Woody on the way to the airport after last Saturday's loss at Kansas State ended the Cyclones chances of earning a bowl bid.
"You always concern yourself in years like this with cancer seeping into your locker room, meeting rooms and it starts to tear away at your football team," Rhoads said. "I haven't seen one bit of it."
After two nondescript years, George emerged as solid contributor a season ago by making 87 tackles, four for a loss, with three pass breakups in nine starts. His presence in the middle was overshadowed by current NFL linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein.
With those two players gone, George has risen his level of play to a whole new level in 2013 as he ranks third in the nation in tackles (11.6 per game) and third in the nation in solo tackles (71). In Big 12 play, George ranks first in tackles for loss (8.5), and leads the Big 12 with 13.2 tackles per game.
That production comes from a guy who many would consider undersized for a middle linebacker as George is listed at 5-foot-11, 219-pounds.
"If there is a linebacker [playing] at a higher level in the Big 12 this season, I'd like to see a steady dose of their film because I don't think there is," Rhoads said.
With a bowl game not an option this season after taking part in three as a Cyclone, George's enthusiasm to be a Cyclone and represent them off the playing field and on the playing field hasn't waned. George also tries to make sure his teammates keep positive, as well.
"I kept high spirits while we were working out (Sunday) because at a time like this moping around isn't going to do anything to help anybody out," George said. "Getting frustrated is not going to help at all. So I'm going to continue to do the things that I have done throughout the season and more importantly now because we are down and out."
Asked if that is hard to do with the Cyclones riding a five-game losing streak, George said sure, but at the same time says his days as a Cyclone, while numbered, aren't over yet.
"Coach Rhoads always talks about when you are frustrated all you are doing is spinning your wheels and you are not going anywhere," George said. "We have four weeks left and four big games that are out there to get. They are not going to come easy so we have to continue to work hard.
"I've got four guaranteed games to play the game I love and I'm not going out there to lose those football games, I'm going out to win."