Once again, we will be covering a receiver in the 2020 Cyclone recruiting class. This class is loaded with the likes of TJ Tampa and Xavier Hutchinson, where Levi and Jake’s analysis could be found here and here. Both Hutchinson and Tampa are widely considered the best incoming receivers, but Aidan Bitter is guy coming in under the radar that could turn some heads.
The 6-foot, 2-inch wide out is out of Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida, where he racked up 32 catches for 568 yards to go along with 6 scores. The stats do not really jump out at you, but 17.8 yards a catch is impressive. Bitter also had offers from Air Force, Cornell, South Dakota, and Troy before committing to Iowa State in June of 2019.
Looking at Aidan Bitter’s film, he isn’t some flashy receiver that will Moss defensive backs all the time or runs a 4.3 forty or something like that (Side note: he was an incredible track and field athlete in high school: 22.8-5 long jump, 6-8 high jump, and a 14.53 110 meter hurdle time). Bitter is a very fundamentally sound wide out that runs great routes and could make a guy miss if he has to.
His biggest flaw, however, is not taking full advantage of his size. At 180 pounds, he’s got some room to get a little bigger and maybe add some muscle before he steps onto MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium. I’ll break it down a bit later once we get to his film, but this kid is a few minor changes away from making a huge difference.
In this first clip, Bitter runs a great comeback route. He finds that 15 yard mark, breaks down his defender, puts his foot in the ground, and comes back to the football to cap off an excellent play.
A route like this doesn’t really have a specific “run 15 yards and come back”, it’s more of a 12-16 yard down the field and find open space route. This pattern is fairly tough to get down, but the way Bitter is able to find space and come back to find the football is indicative of his route running abilities and IQ.
Another comeback route on this play, but honestly I love the way he chops his feet and flips his hips to come and get the football. The fundamentals will take this kid a long way.
To start, this route combo is lethal. Having the slot receiver run a wheel and the outside receiver run a dig route creates separation as it is, but the way Bitter finds holes in a defense to get open could make this play successful more often than not.
Once again, his footwork is incredible and he goes to a perfect spot where no defender is in the area. With a better pass, he could have gained a lot more yards, but he is able to go up and get the football and remain upright to gain even more yards on a wild throw.
While I have been praising Aidan and his footwork, this post route could be a little more crisp. Maybe breakdown a little before making his move to the inside. He makes a catch through contact which is always impressive, but he is a lot taller than his defender and needs to take advantage of that.
In an ideal world, he would have gone up and high-pointed the football and used his size to his ability, but Aidan has a habit of catching the ball right in his chest, whereas if he went up and grabbed it, full extension, there is almost no chance for the defender.
This one may be a stretch, but he is a smaller Todd Blythe. That should be a familiar name to most Cyclone fans so it should not need too much explanation, but Todd Blythe was a go-up-and-get-it type receiver who was not the fastest guy on the field. However, Blythe could run exceptional routes and was capable of a big catch at any time. Bitter isn’t the fastest guy either, but his route running could help him create space and after a year or two in the weight room he could use his body to his advantage. Maybe after Aidan uses his long arms and big body a little more, he could become a carbon copy of Blythe.
Iowa State lost the presence of a good route runner the last few seasons without a Trever Ryen who could find space or a Josh Lenz that could be a sneaky athletic receiver, but with Bitter coming in that could change. He might be a little tall to be playing in the slot, but with his route running ability he could play in just about any spot and find himself open on any given play.
While he might not play right away in Ames, I could see Bitter becoming a reliable receiver in his upperclassmen seasons. He still needs to tweak a few things and add some practice experience, but he has a lot of potential.
As mentioned, Xavier Hutchinson and TJ Tampa are the headline receivers for this class, but Aidan Bitter is definitely a guy to keep your eye on in the future.