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2020 Iowa State Football Position Previews: Wide Receivers

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While losing some key players, the Cyclones still return a talented receiving corps with some new weapons.

Texas v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Departures

Iowa State only lost two receivers from last year’s squad, but they were big pieces in Tom Manning’s offense.

Deshaunte Jones will not be forgotten for a long time in the eyes of Cyclone fans, reeling in 184 catches, over 2,000 yards, and 12 touchdowns in his 4 year career. He ranks 2nd all-time in Iowa State history in catches, 5th in yards, and 9th in touchdowns. Also worth noting that Deshaunte’s 76 catches in the 2019 season falls second in the record books for the Cyclones. Jones was a key part of the offense for the better part of 4 years while at ISU and leaves some big shoes to fill. He was always Mr. Reliable in clutch moments after Hakeem Butler took his talents to the league after the 2018 season.

Northern Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Jones’ partner in crime was big-bodied red-shirt senior, La’Michael Pettway. The graduate transfer via Arkansas brought the excitement to the field where he hauled in 55 catches, 676 yards, and 6 scores - all career highs. While only listed at 6-2, Pettway was a solid target to go up and get a ball in the red zone. Matt Campbell and company got their times worth with him, as they tend to do with graduate transfer receivers.

New Guys

The Cyclones will have several new faces on the squad in the receiving room. They could all potentially make in impact right away, but there are two in particular that are going to be some very talented and exciting wide outs.

We’ll start at TJ Tampa, the 6-2 freshman out of Saint Petersburg, Florida. Jake Brend covered him in a scouting report, so I will not elaborate too much on him. He is, however, a freak athlete and could be a nice new toy for Brock Purdy. Also, I think it is required that since I mentioned him on this website that I have to put this video in the article for all the people to see:

I mean, just ridiculous.

The next exciting newcomer is JUCO transfer, Xavier Hutchinson. He is a very athletic 6 foot 3 inch, 200 pound target out of Blinn College in Texas. Levi Stevenson went more into detail about him here, and there is a very good chance he will contribute right away.

Two other receivers will also join Iowa State are incoming freshman, Daniel Jackson and Aidan Bitter. While these guys are not the big, flashy type players like Tampa and Hutchinson, it is very possible that they could find themselves getting some playing time off the bench this fall.

Leader of the Pack

Tarique Milton is only a junior, but he is going to get quite a bit of the workload this season. Milton made a big leap in his sophomore campaign, going from 12.3 yards a catch to 20.6 being the most significant advance in Tarique’s game. The speedster caught 35 passes for 722 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 2019 season, and would have had the chance to flirt with a 1,000 yard season if not for the shortened schedule.

His speed and footwork is undeniably some of the best we have seen in recent years, making us believe that he will be one of the primary targets this year. He might not catch the ball as much as All-American tight end Charlie Kolar, but it would not be outrageous to see Milton run the ball at times in some sweeps or reverses.

Don’t Forget

NCAA Football: Kansas at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Shaw Jr. came on late last season and made some big catches towards the end of his freshman season. 15 catches for 231 yards does not sound like a lot, but when he racks up 5 touchdown those stats just prove that he is a big play receiver. At 6-6 and 212 pounds, Shaw Jr. has all the ability in the world to become the next Allen Lazard or Hakeem Butler that Cyclone fans have known and loved in recent years. He’s got great hands and has a similar body type to Lazard, but adds a little more speed.

Other guys to keep our eyes on are Joe Scates, who is touted as one of the most athletic receivers on the roster, and Darren Wilson. Scates and Wilson combined for just 7 catches last fall, but they both show a lot of promise for the future. One guy that could be fun to watch is Darian Porter. Porter did not see the field aside from a few kick returns, but here is my hot take: with as many weapons as ISU has, Porter could easily be forgotten about in the scouting report and could blow by any corner he faces with his speed.

Landen Akers enters the season as the only senior receiver, but will likely spend a lot of time on special teams. He will see the field quite a bit, but might not reel in the big catches as often as the previously mentioned wideouts.

2020 Projection

Iowa State has had some solid receivers in the Matt Campbell, 2017’s corps possibly being one of the greatest in school history, but I think this year’s squad of wideouts is going to be the greatest showcase of athleticism and playmaking this loyal fan base has ever seen. They are young yes, but we will see them get better and better week in week out.

Every receiver on the team falls into the category of being big, athletic dudes who can go get the football. The Cyclones will be able to throw the football just as well as any team in the country, whether they are participating or not. If it weren’t for the abbreviated season, Brock Purdy would be slated to break his own single-season records with this talented lineup. Any receiver could get hot at anytime and catch anything thrown their way.

Levi claims that Brock Purdy will be the reason this offense is electric in his quarterback season preview, but I disagree wholeheartedly (I still love you, Brock). The tight ends will take away attention of the receivers and the receivers will distract defenses from the tight ends, damn I’m excited for some Cyclone football. Thank goodness we play in such a great conference that is playing football this fall! Not playing football? Couldn’t be us!