Next up in our recruiting series is Darien Porter, a 6’4 and 180 pound wide receiver from Bettendorf, Iowa. If you’ve been on Twitter this past week, odds are that you saw Porter break the Iowa high school track 400 meter dash record. He ran a 46.99 second race, which is...uhh...very fast.
Porter is a three star wide receiver according to 247sports, he had offers from Nebraska and Minnesota, but instead committed in December of 2017. Porter will be joining the program with two other freshman wideouts. They will be walking into a group with Deshaunte Jones, Tarique Milton, Landen Akers, Joe Scates, La’Micheal Pettaway, and a few others.
Darien will be moving to Ames this summer to start practicing with the team.
As I stated above, Porter is very fast. He uses that to his advantage in his routes and his yards after catch. He’s very effective at getting open by blazing past defensive backs, and/or breaking away after he catches the ball.
Now, in terms of catching, he uses his taller frame to go up over defenders and high point the ball. Porter likes a lot of downfield routes, but he can also be effective in the slant game.
His frame is more slight than the likes of Hakeem Butler and Allen Lazard, so that will be something to work on once he gets on campus. However, his speed and size are something that can’t be taught, and will lay a foundation for how good of a football player he can be.
Porter shows off his tremendous speed and route running on this play, which starts off with a pretty simple cross pattern that confused the defensive backs. Porter took advantage of getting the first step and beat the cornerback to the middle of the field. Once he beat the corner to the center of the field, it was too late for the safety to cover , and he caught the ball and took a few strides before scoring a touchdown.
Iowa State’s offense is built to accentuate and take advantage of high-level speed. Last season, we saw a lot of crossing routes over the middle to Tarique Milton. This is a position or role I could see Porter play as a Cyclone.
Porter straight up abuses the cornerback on this play, who was actually playing pretty good coverage. In this case, Porter got the better of him thanks to his size and 35 inch vertical. This might be the most intriguing part of Porter’s game, given how important 50/50 balls are in the Cyclone offense. Porter’s speed is clearly the best part of his game, but his ability to go over the top could be the most important aspect for him in Ames.
Here’s another example of a fantastic route This one is a post fade, which requires him to fade towards the back pylon in the end zone. We watched this type of route a lot with Allen Lazard for four years, and he mastered it. If Porter has this in his arsenal, this could solve some of Iowa State’s red zone problems.
Here he shows a bit of elusiveness on a fairly simple, yet effective wide receiver reverse. He gets a few steps to pick up speed before running through several defenders for the touchdown. Matt Campbell has been known for getting cute in the red zone with plays like this, so a reverse with a guy of Porter’s speed is very realistic.
Wide receivers generally aren’t on the field to block, but when there are screen passes on their side of the field, they have to be good at it in order for the play to work. Porter pancakes a kid on this screen play to seal the outer edge. It’s inevitable that Porter will be asked to do this while Iowa State, so if he’s always this committed to blocking, that is a good thing. Worth noting: Bettendorf runs a super run-heavy offense, so Darien is likely a fairly polished run blocker, especially for a true freshman.
I will admit, it took me awhile to think of a player that reminded me of Darien Porter, and I really didn’t find a player like him. However, I settled on a player that played at Texas last season and was very effective, Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Both players are very effective route runners, great at 50/50 balls, good blockers, and both are pretty close in size. The only thing that they aren’t similar in is speed. At the NFL Draft Combine, Humphrey ran just a 4.75 second 40 yard dash. These players are very similar at how they get to the ball, but after the ball is caught, they’re very different players.
Like most recruits that aren’t quarterbacks, the offense won’t really be built around Porter, but that doesn’t mean Matt Campbell and Tom Manning won’t find innovative ways to implement Porter into the offense. When he’s in, I think we’ll see more deep routes across the middle and fade routes in the end zone. I also would not be surprised to see Porter return kicks or punt returns during his freshman year, thanks to his unreal speed.
It’s hard to predict the impact he’ll have during freshman year, considering he’s just graduating high school this week. But there is always room for competition, especially this year. Porter will for sure see the field at some point next season, but how often is definitely a question mark.
Darien Porter has all the tools to become a #1 receiver at some point in his career. His speed and ability to fight for balls isn’t something that can be taught, and his route running and blocking should see significant improvement while in Ames. I love what I see in his film and I see the potential of a great receiver to help replace Hakeem Butler and Allen Lazard.