The wide receivers at Iowa State are arguably the most talented overall position group that Iowa State football has ever seen. Agility, route running, quickness, hands, and height are all running on a surplus right now for the Cyclone offense.
For the first time in longer than anyone would care to remember, Iowa State has a legitimate top flight receiver. Allen Lazard is every bit of 6’-5” and is arguably (or not) the best contested catch receiver in the country. Whether it’s coming across the middle, locking up defenders on a curl route, or straight up Randy Moss-ing people in the corner of the endzone, Allen Lazard is the most dangerous Cyclone skill player, and one of the toughest matchups in the country. Defenses should, and will, fear him.
Opposite Lazard, you will likely find speedster Trever Ryan, or actual tree Hakeem Butler. While the two could not be more polar opposites regarding their matchups, each presents a different problem. Ryen has shown the ability to be a threat on the deep ball, but he makes his living on crossing and post routes. Butler does run some crossing routes, but is most dangerous on post and crossing routes when he can use his absurd 6’-6” frame to just catch passes over the cornerback’s head. Oh, he also he has some pretty nice hands too.
In the slot, the Cyclones have a variety of weapons to unleash, but none is more dangerous than Deshaunte Jones. The former high school quarterback from Cincinnati lit up the scoreboard as a freshman, reaching the endzone 6 times. Jones has already shown impressive route running skills to pair with his agility and solid hands. Just a sophomore, whispers have been heard throughout the Cyclone community suggesting Jones could potentially break Todd Blythe’s career record 31 TDs. Breaking the record would require just over 8 TD for each remaining season of eligibility, but a 6 TD freshman season and a projected increased role in the offense going forward has him on the right path. He certainly has the talent to do so. Just watch this catch and run vs. Baylor.
The depth at this position is what makes the group really dangerous. Freshmen Josh Johnson, Tarique Milton, and Jalen Martin, Sophomore Denver Johnson, and Juniors Matthew Eaton and Carson Epps will all be competing for playing time.
At 6’-4”, JUCO transfer Matt Eaton presents the best size of the group, and the ability to spell either Butler or Lazard as a tall deep threat on the field. The rest of the group present the coaching staff with a bevvy of speed and hands. Carson Epps showed flashes of his ability last year, including a long TD reception vs. Baylor.
Honestly, we could go on and on about this wide receiver group, but we all have families and friends to get to, and I’m pretty sure Kool-Aid becomes poisonous if you drink enough.
How it stacks up vs Big 12
In not-even-a-little-bit-shocking news, the country’s most pass happy league boasts some pretty talented receiving corps, lead by James Washington and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. KaVontae Turpin leads a dangerous TCU receiver group which boasts plenty of TCU’s trademark speed. Because they’re Oklahoma, the Sooners have talent at the receiver position, but did lose All-American Dede Westbrook to the NFL. Texas and Texas Tech also feature groups of talented receivers, headlined by Collin Johnson and Keke Coutee, respectively. The rest of the conference is filled with above average receiving groups that are solid, but unremarkable.
Per Athlon Sports, the Cyclones feature the 13th best receiving corps in the country, and 3rd best in the Big 12.
Make no mistake, Allen Lazard is the leader of this group and will absolutely get his. 1,000 yards and 8+ touchdown receptions can be expected out of the future NFL draft pick. Deshaunte Jones will probably be the second option on the team, so I would expect him to at least match his 6 TDs from a season ago, if not exceed that number.
Given the huge group of talented receivers behind those two, I wouldn’t expect anyone to have a statistically eye-popping season, but I am fully anticipating that everyone in this group will contribute to the offense, with most, if not all, of the group reaching 10-15 catches this year at a minimum. That may not seem like a lot, but for a group that can run 8 deep with NFL talent at the top, that’s a significant contribution.
Get ready Cyclone fans, this group is going to be a lot of fun to watch.