Today, we look at one of the deepest position groups on the Cyclone roster – wide receivers.
Coming into the season, Iowa State lost one of their most productive receivers in school history in Allen Lazard, but still maintained a bevy of young and athletic talent, led by the 6-foot-6 freak Hakeem Butler.
Thus far on the first half of the year, Iowa State has spread the ball out to multiple players, but no one can change the game faster than #18. The junior, who some scouts project as an NFL draft pick, is leading the team with 479 yards and an impressive six touchdowns. It seems anytime Butler catches the ball, he has the potential to make a Top-10 Sportscenter Highlight.
Deshaunte Jones makes the Julian Edelman slot position his own, and leads ISU in catches with 26, while freshman Tarique Milton has impressed with his blazing speed. The third speedy amigo is local Iowa boy Landen Akers, who leads the team with a 24-yard per-catch average.
When watching the Cyclone receivers, a few things will jump out at you right off the bat – the outside is full of length and athleticism, while the inside receivers are Tyreek Hill types who can turn on a dime and break one. Two big positives – this is the most speed ISU has ever had at the position, and these boys are fantastic at blocking downfield.
If there is one thing to improve upon, it’s to find another possession receiving threat, and I am staring right at you Matthew Eaton. The 6-foot-4 senior has been anything but impressive, as this team needs to find someone other than Butler to catch the ball on big third downs.
CRAZY STAT: Through SIX games of the season, only FIVE wide receivers have made catches for Iowa State. While EIGHT other players have recorded at least one reception, none have been from the wide receiving group. Names like Jalen Martin, Josh Johnson and Carson Epps are names in that group.
It took until the fifth game of the season for this group to come into its own. While we always knew Butler would be the leader of the pack, there still needs to be a ROBIN to his BATMAN. The leading candidate so far has been Tarique Milton, who has game-breaking speed and has turned into a reliable option. As the offensive playbook expands, look for Matt Campbell to utilize all of his receiving threats in different ways.