As we go through another National Signing Day, I couldn’t help but think of the attrition of Paul Rhoads’s football program over the years. He speaks of keeping "high standards," and while a part of me agrees he needs to hold a tight leash on some of his players, maybe he needs to pull back the reins, because he doesn’t have the horses to win in the Big 12 conference.
Losing impact players like DeVondrick Nealy and TJ Mutcherson leave a huge void in the development process for this team. I think the recruiting process of keeping our current players is almost more important than signing new ones each and every year.
I decided to go back all 5 years, to the 2015 Senior Class’s National Signing Day, and pick out the good ones, the bad ones, and the players that never made it to the sidelines of Jack Trice Stadium. By the way, that was also after Paul Rhoads’s best season at Iowa State, following a 7-6 record and a win over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.
There seemed to be so much momentum at the time. Boy, how the times have changed
The 2010 freshman class ranked 9th out of 10 Big 12 schools, and was 60th overall. Fighting amongst us nationally were Jim McElwain’s future Colorado State Rams and James Franklin’s Vanderbilt Commodores.
Of the 28 in the 2010 freshman class, there were 9 contributors who played significant time and finished their careers as Cyclones. The studs from that class were: Tom (Hulkamania) Farniok, Jeremiah (I play in the NFL) George, All Big-12 Safety Durrell Givens, Jacob (I left the team then came back) Gannon, Brandon (also left and came back) Jensen, Shontrelle Johnson, Rony Nelson, my main man Jarvis West, and the best punter to ever kick, Kirby Van Der Kamp.
Not a bad class. Rhoads and his staff also lost six commits to transfers. That list of coulda-beens include QB Jared Barnett (Illinois St), LB Adrian Bennett (Houston), OL Jon Caspers (Northern St), LB CJ Morgan (Southern Utah) and RB Duran (Duck) Hollis (Nobody knows where the duck went).
I chalked up 11 players that were insignificant to the program. That leaves the 2010 class batting a solid .322. A few homeruns (Farniok, George, Givens), stolen bases (Jarvis) and quite a few strikeouts and walks.
The 2011 class ranked 51st nationally. This time right next to the Death Penalty school of Southern Methodist and perennial mid-major Boise State. ISU again ranked 9th out of 10 conference schools.
Of the 24 signees, contributors included school record for receiving TD’s in a season Quenton Bundrage, Jared (I forget to cover Texas WR’s) Brackens, OL Brock Dagel, WR Aaron Horne, QB Steele (Inconsistency is my middle name) Jantz, LB Jevohn Miller, and both Sam Richardsons (QB and CB).
This class had even more attrition. Apparently they got tired of hearing the same old speech in the locker room. The 2011 class lost eight players to the transfer bug. They include the fresh duo of WR Tad Ecby and RB Devondrick Nealy; DL David (I carry stop signs around campus for fun) Irving, WR Ja’Quarius Daniels, DT Quinton Pompey and RB Rob Standard.
This time we bat .333. Bundrage and both Sam’s have been homeruns. The rest are singles and doubles hitters. There are still a few incompletes in the form of Kenneth Lynn, Jamison Lalk and Oni Omoile, but seeing more transfers is not a good sign.
The 2012 class was not good. I’m going to mention the studs - and they will be in the form of white hog mollies and a kicker.
This class of 21 ranked 88th. And you guessed it, last in the Big 12. Again next to SMU (who won 1 game last year), Navy and Tulsa. Woof
Significant contributors include OL Daniel (My Mullet looks better than yours) Burton, DL Mitchell Meyers, All Big-12 DE Cory Morrissey, and K Cole (I got two chances at beating Iowa) Netten.
We have seven transfers (so far). They include CB Charlie Rogers (IWCC now Minnesota), SS TJ (Apparently I can’t freak out at practice) Mutcherson, WR Damien Lawry, WR PJ (I hit my girlfriend) Harris, DT Collin (I would have started) Bevins and OL Duaron (Mammoth) Williams.
There are still a few incompletes in the form of DT Devlyn Cousin, LB Luke Knott (lost his starting job), LB Kane Seeley, WR Dondre Daley and DE Darius White.
Again, very few playmakers. A lot of slow linebackers, a troubled wide receiver and a lot of linemen who never panned out. Let’s say we move the Luke Knott/Kane Seeley LB combo and Dondre Daley into contributing status, and we are hitting .286. Lots of strikeouts on this one.
This class is a clear reason why this team has gone 5-19 the last two years. A huge bump in the road for the Paul Rhoads program.
The 2013 class ranked 58th. Right about where ISU usually sits. This time they are next to the mighty Wisconsites (wow) and Minnysohta. 9th out of 10 Big 12 schools.
This class will be going into their redshirt sophomore years. Contributors include: TE EJ (I should have been a Mackey finalist) Bibbs, OL Jake (4-yr starter) Campos, Big 12 Defensive Freshman of Year Safety Kamari Cotton-Moya, CB Nigel (4-yr starter again) Tribune and RB Aaron (If only I had an o-line) Wimberly.
More talent in this one. More skill players and athleticism.
Transfers are at five in this class. They include noteworthy DL Rodney Coe and QB Trevor Hodge. The rest of the class have potential by way of LB Brian Mills, S Kamari Syrie, QB Joel Lanning, DL Robby Garcia (who I considered as significant), and our possible starting RB next year in Tyler Brown.
Add in half of those incomplete players as contributors and we hit .320. Definitely a couple of homerun hitters in Bibbs, Campos, Moya and Nigel, but right now this class is all based off potential.
The 2014 class is far too young to break down at this moment. Obviously we have a 4-year starting stud in Allen Lazard, but the rest are just getting let off their mother’s teat in the Cyclone program.
Now, I’m not bothered by a commitment that doesn’t make it to campus. Maybe he had academic issues or was homesick (Devron Moore). But when a player drinks the Paul Rhoads kool-aid for a few years and then decides to bolt, I see a tire fire. Especially a safety as promising as TJ Mutcherson and two would-be-seniors in Ecby and Nealy.
Perfect examples of this are Brandon Jensen and Jacob Gannon. Both were starters last year. They put in the time in the film room, weight room, started on Saturdays, and still they didn’t love their team and coach enough to stay on the team. Now both of them came back, but this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I don’t know about you, but the Paul Rhoads Kool-Aid is getting watered down. I need some more sugar and possibly a new flavor.
Apparently so do the players.