The Cyclones entered the 2020 season without a go-to wide receiver for Brock Purdy, with Deshaunte Jones leaving and all. Charlie Kolar was obviously still there at tight end, but it just was not the same ‘ole reliable’ feel. The receivers with the most experience were Tarique Milton (injured for most of the season) and Paul Rhoads recruit, Landon Akers. Akers was a great guy off the bench and on special teams, but his role would be huge in the 2020 season.
No questions about the talent, but who would be able to step up and fill Deshaunte Jones’ role? Jones accounted for nearly 25% of both catches and yards (also threw for a touchdown) in 2019, so there were some big shoes to fill. Tarique Milton was the most recognizable talent for the Cyclones in the receiving game, but Xavier Hutchinson would take almost zero time to come into the forefront in the passing attack.
Hutchinson runs some of the best routes on the team, and can make any catch, no matter the coverage. He’s not quite Hakeem Butler on the deep balls, but that’s not what he was asked to do this season. The X-Man could get himself open and secure the catch to keep the ball moving. While he was the #1 target for Purdy, there was a significant drop off for receivers that Brock targeted.
Sean Shaw Jr. had 43 fewer receptions than Hutchinson, but recorded the second most catches among receivers. Shaw has all the potential in the world and showed flashes of greatness all throughout the season. Landen Akers was right behind him in catches with 18 catches.
A former walk-on, Akers was a nitty gritty guy that did the little things right. He was able to finally get that illustrious touchdown in the final regular season game, after previously holding the record for most scrimmage yards in ISU history without a touchdown in his career.
There was a little inconsistency with the other receivers, but with them all having a year under their belt, I think they are poised for a huge 2021 campaign.
2020 Iowa State Receiving Stats
|Sean Shaw Jr.||21||212||1|
|Darren Wilson Jr.||2||27||1|
These numbers don’t really pop out, but you have to remember: we have one of the best tight ends and running backs in the country who also catch passes.
Expectations for 2021
Iowa State has just one receiver in the 2021 recruiting class, Tristan Michaud. A 3 star wide-out of the great white north (Canada) that stands at 6 foot, 5 inches. ISU is going to have all sorts of talent at the position next fall, so there is no way of saying how much he will see the field.
Tarique Milton being fully healthy coming into next season will be huge, as he adds another page or two to the playbook by himself. Xavier Hutchinson has an entire offseason now to get all the wrinkles out, Hopefully Joe Scates has a good offseason and starts realizing his potential, and some of the unproven guys step up to be a bigger role in the offense.