The Cyclones added to a position that is already quite strong from a numbers standpoint, with J.D. Waggoner being the only senior in the bunch. The coaching staff is also quite excited about some defensive ends who either redshirted a year ago or who didn’t see much playing time. Eyioma Uwazurike, Seth Nerness, and Carson Lensing are all guys who are highly thought of around the program.
JaQuan Bailey is expected to anchor one of the defensive end positions, and newcomer Matt Leo is expected to vie for playing time immediately as a junior college transfer. The rest of the players added at this position should do a terrific job of adding depth to an already deep position.
Former rugby star Matt Leo comes to Iowa State as a highly sought-after junior college player. He was a top-50 JUCO player, and he postd 17 tackles, 6.5 TFL, and 3.5 sacks as a sophomore at Arizona Western. Leo was offered by the likes of Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi State and UCF, and had been previously been committed to Arizona.
Matt Leo has the quickness to be disruptive in the backfield and to pressure the quarterback, and he also has the size to be a factor in stopping the run. His size, 6’7” 265, should help him fit in well as an edge rusher for Cyclones.
Leo, despite being a junior, doesn’t have a lot of experience. He played in 11 games as a reserve during his freshman season, and didn’t see a huge amounts of minutes as a sophomore. The jump from junior college to the Big 12 can be difficult one, no matter how talented a player is. Leo’s ability to transition to Division 1 football is going to be important to watch.
Bailey, who is listed as a weak-side DE, comes into Iowa State the #43rd ranked DE in the class of 2017. He was highly sought after, garnering offers from the likes of Arizona, Louisville, Mississippi State, and a host of others. Bailey has been a longtime commit, joining the Cyclones back in September of this year. In high school, he played a sort of combination between linebacker and defensive end, and that is likely to continue at Iowa State.
Speed and athleticism come to mind with Bailey. While he doesn’t have the size to go through people, he gets around blocks well, and if he gets held up, does a nice job of getting his arms up into passing lanes.
While Bailey has a nose for the football, he tends to get blocked a little to easily on run plays, and shows a slight tendency to over-pursue. Once he finds the ball carrier, however, he tackles well and plays with a big-hitter mentality. It’ll be interesting to see how the coaching staff chooses to utilize his big-time talent.
Angel Dominguez, a 6’4” 282 pound player from Overland Park, KS, is rated as the #42 DE in the 2017 class by 24/7. He was recruited by Kansas and Oklahoma State as well as Northern Illinois.
Dominguez has the frame to get bigger and the talent develop into a contributor for the Cyclones in years to come. He received first-team all-state honors as a junior, recording 79 tackles and 11 sacks. Physically, he tends to impose his will on smaller offensive linemen, and is great at shedding blocks.
The biggest question regarding this talented player is the status of his knee. Dominguez tore his ACL before the start of his senior season, so it will be interesting to see how he has recovered and progressed.
California native Tucker Robertson committed to the Cyclones in January, which capped the relationship he’d built with the coaching staff following his visit for the Texas Tech game. Robertson was recruited by a host of schools, and had offers from Arizona, Washington State, San Diego State, and Nevada. He comes in as the 65th rated DE in the 2017 class.
Robertson, standing at 6’3” 260, is an explosive player who may end up getting shuffled over to the defensive line due to his size and athleticism. Provided he puts on some weight, it’s easy to see him being an interior pass rush threat.
Like most lineman’s weakness’ Robertson’s leverage is a little big of an issue. He tends to fire off the ball and stands straight up allowing lineman to gain leverage over him. He used his power to overcome this flaw in high school but in the Big 12 it is a whole new ball game.
Dan Sichterman comes into Iowa State as a somewhat under-recruited player, with few power-five offers to his name. The Kings, OH native is actually a triplet, with a brother committed to Nebraska to play on the offensive line and his sister committed to swim for Tennessee. Sichterman was originally committed to Ball State before ultimately choosing the Cyclones.
Sichterman is destined to be an edge rusher at the college level, which he excelled at in high school. He is deceptively quick off the ball, evidenced by him racking up 10 sacks as a senior, and was a constant presence in opponents backfield.
Size is definitely not a strength for Sichterman, and you’ve probably noticed a trend in this department among the Cyclone’s DE commits. It’s tough to get defensive ends from the high school ranks with the size needed for division 1 football. Sichterman is a likely redshirt for the 2017-18 season, and will likely be a bit of a project for the coaching staff.
Nagel, one of 6 in-state players to commit to Campbell and CO., comes in as the 93rd best defensive end in the 2017 class. The Manchester native was sought after by UNI, NDSU, and a host of smaller schools. He played both tight end and defensive end as a senior, and was originally committed to UNI.
Nagel has tremendous size at 6’6”, and the coaching staff is likely hoping he develops into a rangy edge rusher with the athleticism to make plays in the run game as well. It’s also easy to picture him in the hybrid LEO role as well.
While he definitely needs to add to his long frame, Nagel needs more experience on the defensive line, as he played both ways and didn’t put up much in terms of numbers in high school. While being dedicated to the DE position will certainly help with that, look for him to redshirt his freshman season.
2017 Defensive End Outlook
The Cyclones did exactly what they needed to in recruiting this group: find a player who can contribute right away, add a few guys with the talent and size to play within a year or two, and take on a few players with a chance to develop into solid contributors over the course of their career.
Matt Leo is a tremendous get for the Cyclones, and is expected to arrive sometime this spring with the chance to see a substantial amount of playing time. Cordarrius Bailey could see time right away as a linebacker/DE hybrid, or we may see them take the time to develop his size at the DE position. Both Robertson and Dominguez are pretty highly sought after players with the athletic ability to contribute within a year or two of being in the program, and Nagel and Sichterman are athletic kids who can potentially develop into solid edge rushers
This position is already loaded with young talent, despite being a tough one to recruit, and Campbell and his staff have done a nice job of bringing in athletic kids with plenty of potential.