The off season is drawing to a close as Big 12 Media Days kick off today in Dallas. With the start of camp just two weeks away, and the start of the season six weeks away, it's high time that people begin to see what the depth chart looks like for the 2015 edition of the Iowa State Cyclones.
The Depth Chart
Click here for the Cyclones.com version.
Very few surprises here as the known returning starters hold on firmly to their spots. Sam B. Richardson is the man at QB and the big three wide receivers of D'Vario Montgomery, Quenton Bundrage, and Allen Lazard hold down their spots.
It's not everyday you see a receiver of Montgomery's size playing the Z (slot) receiver position, but there he is in his skinny TE frame holding down the middle. It's a big departure from having Jarvis West in the middle the past four seasons, and Montgomery's size should present a big target to Richardson on those over the middle timing routes.
The two other surprises are the moves of Jauan Wesley and Dondre Daley. Wesley spent most the latter part of last season in the Z spot with the injuries to West and Brett Medders. Daley played both the X and F position, but was focused more on the F for most of the season and served the "possession" receiver role. Daley had moments last year where he could beat coverage one-on-one, and that's the primary role of an X receiver. Wesley, who I thought was a great Z receiver, is going to be tasked with the possession role when he's on the field this year.
Start the Line Hype Train
Ever since the spring I was calling for Jamison Lalk to be the starting center, and there he is holding down the middle as the most experienced man on the line. Of the starting five, only Jake Campos doesn't break the 300 pound mark, but his 6'8" frame is going to be more than enough to keep the left side of the line held down.
Talk is always about finding eight or nine guys to fill out a line during the season, and right now the lack of experienced depth behind the starters is the most cause for concern. Of the non-starters, only Wendell Taiese and Jacob Dunning have collegiate experience, and Dunning tore his knee up against Iowa last season.
The starting five might be the best we've seen in Ames in awhile, but with the depth continuing to be a question there will be a fine line between being successful and the wheels coming off the train completely.
The defensive depth chart brings few surprises itself, but is more cringe worthy than offensive side of the ball. A clear lack of depth at all positions is complemented by a clear lack of talent in the linebacker spots.
The Defensive Line Will Be ______
Demond Tucker has his work cut out for him at nose guard. If he can stay on the field 60% of the time the Iowa State defense will improve, but anything less than that begins to give you flashbacks to last season. Missing from the depth chart is the other JUCO DT signing: Bobby Leath. Leath didn't have the fanfare surrounding him that Tucker did, but provides another big, experienced body in the middle. According to ISU, Leath didn't participate in the summer bridge program and they're still expecting his arrival for fall camp. Leath is on the main roster, but has not been added to the online roster.
The rest of the line is held down by a who's who of guys who have been at Iowa State for awhile, and all have impressed in spots but have either been hurt or played over in the past. Tucker is the key to the line improving, but if they want to do it for 12 games the guys we've seen the past few seasons have to improves as well.
Eek. Jordan Harris in the middle has the potential for something great, but he's going to be buffeted by Jarnor "Jay" Jones at Nickel, and some rotation of [Insert undersized WILL linebacker here]. People are expecting big things from Jones, and this author is no different. You'll just have to pardon my caution as we've seen this story before: heralded JUCO comes to Ames to never be heard from again. I'll go on record as saying I hope I'm the wrongiest of wrongs on this one.
And that WILL spot... I can't even.
Best unit on the team behind the wide receivers, but they need some love and support from the front seven to really show their skill. Nigel Tribune is starting his third season, Sam E. Richardson has been around forever and was the best DB down the stretch last season, and Kamari Cotton-Moya is a future All Big 12 performer. Get these guys some help up front and watch them go to work.
What's it All Mean?
Well it is just a pre-fall camp depth chart, and exists solely for discussion points by the media and the group of coaches and players heading to Dallas. There will be some changes between now and the first week of September. Some of it due to injury, some of it due to guys stepping up in camp, but for now this is what we can expect if the season were to start today, and I'm interested in everyone's thoughts on what this depth chart could do over 12 games.