When all was said and done on Wednesday the 2014 Iowa State recruiting class ended up with 25 players who signed national letters of intent to play for the Cyclones. Seven of those players come from the JUCO ranks with the rest coming straight from high school. 11 states and/or provinces are represented with the biggest contribution coming from Texas. The Cyclones only signed one player out of Iowa, but it was a big one as 4-star recruit Allen Lazard stuck to the commitment he made in December 2012 and signed on the dotted line to spend his collegiate days in Ames.
Before we get too deep let's get one thing out of the way - not all of these guys are going to be superstars. The majority of them will be happy to see snaps in their upper classmen years and some will flame out and never make it on the field all together. The more guys Rhoads can keep and make productive, the better, but we'd be doing a disservice to these kids thinking they're all going to become the next Leonard Johnson or Quenton Bundrage.
|Early Enrollee||Harris, Jordan||LB||Copiah-Lincoln CC||YouTube||Memphis, S. Miss, Tulane|
|Early Enrollee||Luna, Gabe||DE||Butler CC||YouTube||Cal, Charlotte, TTU|
|Early Enrollee||Moore, Devron||DB||NE Oklahoma A&M CC||YouTube||Wisc, WVU, Utah, TTU, TCU, Ill, KU|
|7:08 a.m.||Kodanko, Kory||OL||Green Bay, WI||YouTube||North Dakota|
|7:11 a.m.||Lazard, Allen||WR||Urbandale, IA||YouTube||ND, Neb, Stanford|
|7:13 a.m.||Wesley, Jauan||WR||Markham, IL||YouTube||Ill, Mich. St, Toledo, NIU.|
|7:31 a.m.||Schaffner, Scotty||TE||Raymore, MO||YouTube||FL Atlantic|
|7:34 a.m.||Anderson, Cole||OL||League City, TX||YouTube||AF, Houston, Indiana, Oregon State, SMU, Tulsa|
|7:41 a.m.||Downing, Colin||P||Whitefish Bay, WI||YouTube||Penn State, Toledo|
|7:44 a.m.||Syria, Martinez||RB||Humble, TX||YouTube||Houston, Ole Miss, North Texas|
|7:50 a.m.||Windham, Will||OL||Schertz, TX||YouTube|
|7:54 a.m.||Peavy, Brian||DB||Houston, TX||YouTube||Texas Tech|
|7:57 a.m.||Lee-Campbell, Darius||QB||Spring, TX||YouTube||Colorado, TCU, Wake, Houston|
|8:04 a.m.||Seonbuchner, Sam||LB||Oconomowoc, WI||YouTube||Pitt, Ohio, Bowling Green|
|8:33 a.m.||Northrup, Reggan||LB||Dallas, TX||YouTube||UNC, Rutgers, Akron|
|8:40 a.m.||Holmes, Vic||DB||La Porte, TX||YouTube||Rice|
|9:03 a.m.||Salters, Orion||WR||Dallas, TX||YouTube|
|9:08 a.m.||Johnson, Mike||DB||Clearwater, FL||YouTube||AZ, Indiana, Louisville, Purdue, Syracuse, TTU|
|9:10 a.m.||Warren, Michael||RB||Lawton, OK||YouTube||Wash. St, Wake, Tulsa, Toledo, NM, S. Miss|
|9:21 a.m.||Floyd, Qujuan||DB||Santa Monica CC||YouTube||Utah, NM, TX St|
|9:48 a.m.||Ruth, De'Monte||DB||Dallas, TX||YouTube||Baylor, Sam Houston St|
|10:22 a.m.||Pierson, Dale||DL||Pasadena City CC||YouTube||Cal, Ill., AZ, Indiana|
|11:27 a.m.||Harvey, Willie||LB||Hastings, FL||YouTube||So. Miss, Marshall, W. Mich|
|12:04 p.m.||Ayeni, Terry||DL||NM Military Ins.||YouTube||WVU, USF, NM, NIU|
|12:16 p.m.||Taiese, Wendell||OL||Laney CC||YouTube||KU, Fresno St, Cincy, TX St|
You really have to like the offer list for some of these guys. Lazard's list isn't deep because of his early commitment but multiple guys received BCS offers and a lot of the chatter behind pay walls on recruiting sites has been how some of these players had late pushes made for them by some of those BCS schools. As it is with a lot of guys this age, it came down to whether or not they felt wanted, and Rhoads and company have done a good job finding their first choice and landing it. Now everyone crosses their fingers that the talent evaluation was as solid as the staff's recruiting skills.
It's a minor miracle that with the departures of Courtney Messingham, Ken Pope, and Bill Bleil, coupled with the untimely passing of Curtis Bray; that this class remained almost completely intact. That's a testament to how Rhoads and his staff get on players early and just how good of a recruiter Rhoads is. He was referred to as The Closer while at Pitt and calling the shots now at Iowa State only adds to the cache he brings when sitting in a recruit's living room. The only real "miss" out of this bunch was the decommitment of Tommy Mister, but Michael Warren should prove to be a more than capable substitute.
Lazard is the start of this group and will be under a lot of scrutiny going forward. Now that the ink is dry on his LOI the story is going to turn to whether or not Lazard lives up to the hype, and somewhat rightfully so. Kudos to Rhoads for calling out the local media as vultures for how they treated this kid (read: Thank God Rashad Vaughn doesn't live in Des Moines), and I can't blame him. But now Lazard is going to be under the microscope the entire time he's in Ames and short of doing Dorial Green-Beckham things there are going to be some people in the media that call him a failure. First, Lazard is not DGB in a lot of ways, and second, go fuck yourself to anyone that thinks this kid should save this offense from day one.
I've argued a lot of times that Lazard could benefit from a redshirt for multiple reasons, but I think one of the biggest ones may be so he can focus on acclimating to Iowa State and being part of a Big XII team. Chances are he won't redshirt, but if he does no one should be surprised.
Aside from Lazard there are two other receivers in this class: Jauan Wesley and Orion Salters. Wesley had an impressive list coming out of Markham, IL and Salters has pretty much flown under the radar. Expect a redshirt for both with the depth of the position.
Four offensive linemen were signed in this class and one of those, Cole Anderson, is an astronaut's son. Clearly he should be the best of the bunch, right? Anderson, Kory Kodanko, Wendell Taise, and Will Windham form a solid group for this class with Taise being the one who should contribute immediately.
Standing 6'6" and 340 pounds this guy has ass kicker written all over him. He should slide in to guard to force teams to find a way to attack him, but given his length it's not out of the question to see him playing at right tackle. Either way this guy is someone you can build around to jump start a stagnant running game. Questions surround his academic abilities but this staff has done a great job keeping players eligible.
Darius Lee-Campbell is the lone quarterback of the class and was garnering late interest from TCU before signing with Iowa State. He's of the athletic, dual threat mold but has his work cut out for him in the fall. With a new coordinator and playbook the quarterback competition is going to be wide open, but it's going to be hard for anyone to beat out either Sam Richardson or Grant Rochach. My feeling with DLC is either he or Trevor Hodge will be moving positions in the next year. That's not all bad though as plenty of high school quarterbacks go on to see great college careers at other positions (see: Johnson, Leonard).
The two running backs for this class, Warren and Martinez Syria, bring size and speed to the backfield. Both stand 6 feet tall with Syria already hitting 200 pounds. With the departure of three senior running backs last year I would not be surprised to see one of these two get in the mix to provide support to DeVondrick Nealy and Aaron Wimberly this fall. I'd take Warren in this case as Syria might have the frame to put on some more pounds and fill the short yardage spot that Jeff Woody has since vacated.
If you're counting at home that means I see about three positions on offense next year that can be filled by incoming recruits: Lazard at WR, Taiese on the line, and Warren as a third string running back.
The script here is almost completely flipped from the offensive recruiting. Of the seven JUCOs brought in six are on the defensive side of the ball. Terry Ayeni, Gabe Luna, and Dale Pierson are all on the defensive line. The leading tackler in the JUCO ranks, Jordan Harris, will slide into Jeremiah George's spot at linebacker, and defensive backs Qujuan Floyd and Devron Moore will likely hold down the spots vacated by Jansen Watson and Jacques Washington.
You don't bring in JUCOs to redshirt and everyone mentioned above should get significant playing time. Harris, Floyd, and Moore are going to start from day one and the three defensive linemen will take awhile to learn the system and how to play at the Big XII level, but judging by Rodney Coe's progression last year I expect a healthy rotation of all three plus Coe by season's end.
Three other linebackers were brought in with this class and include Willie Harvey, Reggan Northrup, and Sam Seonbuchner. I had completely forgotten about Seonbuchner until his LOI came in on Wednesday, but he's already listed at 6'2" and 220 pounds. The linebacking group is going to be thin again this year but it's nice to see the size is beginning to return. Two of the three should redshirt, and it's possible all three will, but that all depends how existing linebackers such as Darius White and Jevohn Miller progress this offseason.
Rhoads brought in four other defensive backs to go with the two JUCOs and they are Vic Holmes, Mike Johnson, Brian Peavy, and De'Monte Ruth. Holmes and Johnson both stand 5'11" and are in that taller mold that Rhoads likes. Chances are they all redshirt but with the departure of Charlie Rogers there is probably a strong need for a nickel to step up.
The defense has a lot of holes to fill on a squad that ranked in the bottom 1/4 nationally in nearly every major statistical category last season. It's hard to think they'll get leaps and bounds better over one offseason but some good fits from the JUCO ranks should help. Given what the offense should be able to do, and the general wizardry of Wally Burnham, all this defense needs to do is force teams to earn their points to help get Iowa State back to a bowl game.
Why wouldn't the most important position from 2013 not get its own section? Colin Downing comes to Ames via Whitefish Bay, WI and will probably step into the starting role immediately. He's a hockey player, so apparently that makes him athletic enough to carry out the fakes that we all know and love. That's really all I got here.
So there you have it. The 2014 class in an 1,800 word nutshell. Hopefully we see more of these guys as the years go by and not a repeat of the Fischer twins.