February 3rd is the equivalent to Christmas Day for newly-inked Cyclone coach Matt Campbell and his young staff. In the matter of only a few months (60 days to be exact), Campbell and staff have managed to travel more miles than the DeLorean, drink more caffeine than the average Joe, and sign more stud recruits than any of us would have ever thought.
To see what they have done in such a short period of time is truly remarkable. Just wait until they get a full 12 months! This is only the beginning.
So strap in for a crazy ride, and what appears to be "A Storm is Brewing" possibly? I don't know, it's what those people on the twitterverse are saying.
I will spend the next few days, leading up to the big day of February 3rd, breaking down this 2016 recruiting class. First on the docket...
JUCOS and Transfers Already Enrolled at ISU
(Click on the name of each recruit to be taken to their page on Cyclones.com)
Clifford the Big Red Dog hails from Sandy Hook, MS, by way of Southwest Mississippi Community College. Yes, that is actually a school. He is 6-foot-5 and has some skills on the basketball court as well. While trying to unleash his inner Jimmy Graham, Fernandez caught 20 balls for 188 yards in 2015. While those numbers don't seem outlandish, it was his first season playing tight end.
Fernandez has good size for the position, and could fight for a spot on the depth chart next season, as the tight end spot is wide open for the taking. Fernandez was listed the 12th best JUCO tight end by 247sports, is a 2-star recruit according to Scout, and his best offer came from South Florida.
Thadd Daniels is a hybrid defensive back that could play the safety or corner spot at the collegiate level. Daniels grew up listening to NWA in Compton, CA before bringing his talent to Cerritos Community College in California. He has good size for a safety at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, and was brought to ISU to play significant snaps next year at a vacated strong safety spot.
Thadd chose ISU over Purdue, Utah and BYU, and is ranked as the fifth-best safety by JUCO standards. He is also a 3-star recruit by both Scout and Rivals.
Oge Udeogu is a 315 pound behemoth of an offensive lineman, and will have every shot to start at guard next year for the Cyclones. Udeogu comes by way of City College of San Francisco, and can utilize the soccer skills he picked up in his native Nigeria to his advantage on the football field.
Udeogu chose the Cyclones over Georgia Tech, Louisville, Houston and Toledo. He is ranked as the 17th best JUCO offensive tackle, and was given a 3-star rating by both Scout and Rivals.
Another tongue twister for a junior college school - Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. That is the school that Karson Green has played for the last two years, before signing with the good guys. He measures out at either tackle spot, as his 6-foot-5 frame will add depth to the offensive line.
Green chose the Cyclones over Houston and East Carolina, and was a 2-star recruit.
The gem of this JUCO class is D'Andre Payne, a transfer by way of Tennessee and Arizona Western Community College. Payne will be eligible to play three years, and is a 5-foot-10, 190 pound physical cover corner that had nearly every offer in the book coming out of high school.
Payne was a 4-star recruit in high school, and rated as a top 20 corner. He originally picked Tennessee over Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, Florida State, Stanford, Auburn and Clemson in 2014. Payne played sparingly at Tennessee before getting homesick. He spent last year as a redshirt.
Catalina is a rare graduate transfer who will step in right away and more than likely start at one of the bookend tackle positions next year. At 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, Catalina is the epitome of consistency, starting in at least 10 games in each of the last three seasons at Rhode Island.
He has played both right and left tackle, started 33 games, while most recently being groomed at Rhode Island by former ISU offensive line coach Bill Bleil. Catalina was a second team all-conference selection as a junior, and will be a surefire leader on the depth chart as a senior.
The "offer heard round the world" still hasn't been confirmed by any source, but QB Zeb Noland was once believed to have received one from none other than Nick Saban and Alabama. Whether that is true or not, ISU has him now. Noland, who was coached by his father, a quarterback himself at Appalachian State, has a cannon for an arm and a Big 12 body.
Noland stands 6-foot-3, and can throw the deep ball well. He chose ISU over Appalachian State, Colorado State and Toledo, and was a 3-star recruit according to Scout. He is ranked as the 48th best QB in the 2016 high school class and will more than likely redshirt his freshman year. Noland has already graduated early and is enrolled in classes in Ames for the spring semester.
For you diehard NFL fans out there, this name should ring a bell. Troy's father played in the NFL for 16 seasons at the cornerback position, and passed down a few skills to his son. Junior started his career at NC State, only to play sparingly on special teams and look for a different opportunity. He found that by way of ISU, and is currently sitting out a year as a walk-on.
Vincent, Jr. was coveted by multiple BCS programs out of high school, and was ranked as the 33rd best cornerback as a 4-star recruit. Some of those schools, to name a few, were Notre Dame, Penn State, Arkansas, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Vincent, Jr. will more than likely work out as a redshirt this season, and receive a scholarship next season if everything goes according to plan.
Kempt hails from the same neck of the woods as Coach Campbell (Massillon, Ohio), and attended Oregon State in 2013, initially redshirting. He didn't see any playing time, so transferred to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Kempt was a 3-star recruit, and will also be a junior walk-on for the Cyclones in 2016.
Mason played at West Des Moines Valley High School before showing his skills at Iowa Western Community College. He was named second-team all-conference, hauling in over 50 balls his senior year. Mason is a speedster, coming in at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds.
Out of this group, I see a definite possibility that Catalina, Payne, Daniels and Udeugu will see snaps next year. Look for Catalina to grab one of the tackle spots, and Payne and Daniels to fight for a role in the defensive backfield.
The next article in our 2016 National Signing Day coverage will be high school verbal commits on the offensive side of the ball. Stay tuned!