Last season was full of surprises. David Montgomery took his game up another notch. Marcel Spears came and surprised everyone on the defensive side of the ball. Ray Lima worked harder than anyone else up front, and Hakeem Butler showed what kind of freak he can be on the outside.
Those are some of the names that broke out in 2017, but there are many more that are primed for a breakout season in 2018. Let’s take a look at five players that should break out this coming season.
Deshaunte Jones burst on to the scene during his freshman campaign. Jones compiled 37 receptions for 536 yards and six touchdowns. His totals took a hit last season, whether it was due to a talented receiver room or Trever Ryen playing consistently well all season. The fact of the matter is, Jones is very skilled and is poised to breakout in 2018. The wide receiver depth chart will once again be very loaded, and it will be up to Jones to take his game to the next level consistently.
Kene Nwangwu did not see much time in the backfield during his freshman season, though he did make a major impact in the return game. Bad luck struck during the 2017 spring, as the electric Nwangwu ruptured his achilles, ending his season right then and there. Iowa State’s return game suffered in the 2017, but with Nwangwu poised to return, it should get an immediate and much needed boost. Look for him also to make a splash on the offensive side of the ball. Matt Campbell wants to get Nwangwu the ball in space and let his speed take over.
Matt Leo was a raw football prospect when he arrived in Ames, but his physical attributes made him appealing to Iowa State. Leo’s season never really got started, as he was hampered by a pectoral injury and the coaching staff determined it was best to give him another season to get his feet under him. Leo will push for playing time this fall, and could be a force to place with JaQuan Bailey and Ray Lima.
I think this is one of the more critical players on this Iowa State football team that needs to make his presence on the field. Kamilo Tongamoa got into fall camp late last year because he was finishing up his classes at his junior college. Once he got to campus, Tongamoa put on 30 pounds of weight that pushed him past his prime playing condition. Not only was this a problem,but with the shift to a 3-man front, his technique was out the door. During spring ball you could see Tongamoa was in better shape and is now primed to show he can be a defensive star.
Chase Allen was a starter all of 2017 during his redshirt freshman season, but as we saw during the 2016 season, the tight end position hasnt gotten muchmuch love in the passing game. Allen only tallied four receptions for 39 yards. Allen is a tight end built for the passing game, and during spring practices it was said he looked to be in very impressive shape. Allen has a lot of great skills that could blossom him into a great tight end, I think he makes major steps towards that during the 2018 season.