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2021 Iowa State Football Position Previews: Wide Receivers

An explosive unit on the offensive side.

Texas Tech v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Welcome to our 2021 Iowa State football position previews, where we’ll be spending the last two weeks of the offseason previewing each position group for the 2021 team. This week will be the offense, and next week will be defense. Be sure to check out Levi’s breakdown of the QB room, Now for the receivers.

Departures

The only departure from the loaded wide-out room was Paul Rhoads recruit, Landen Akers. Akers committed to the Cyclones in the year of our lord 2014, and was the epitome of Matt Campbell’s process that eventually led to him having a significant role on the offense.

While being mainly a special teamer, Landen was able to make an impact on field since he stepped on the campus in one way or another. The Cedar Rapids product was able to reel in 18 catches for 269 to go with his one touchdown in his final season in Ames, before getting an opportunity with the Los Angeles Rams for the 2021 NFL Preseason.

After the 2021 season, it is likely that we will see Xavier Hutchinson and Tarique Milton move on from the Cyclones, but boy do they have some studs behind them.

New Guys

Iowa State brings in just two new receivers, but both could make an immediate impact as true freshman. Jaylin Noel has already been lighting it up during the preseason and very well could be the next guy up in the slot after Tarique Milton. Noel, out of Kansas City, has incredible breakaway speed, making it silly for any corner to press him. That’s BBQ chicken.

The other addition is the 6-5 Canadian, Tristan Michaud. Of course, that’s pronounced Me-show because of the French Canada. Anyway, Michaud comes in at just 200 pounds, but Dave Andrews will take care of that. His highlight reel shows a lot of similarities to former ISU standout, Allen Lazard. Michaud is a 4.6 forty-yard dash guy that is only going to get better at creating separation at this level. Lots of upside for both Noel and Michaud.

Leader of The Pack

Tarique Milton might be the first guy that comes to mind as a “leader” since he’s entering his 4th season in Ames, but Xavier Hutchinson proved himself last season as the best receiver on the team. Leading ISU in both receptions (64) and yards (771) in his first season with the ‘Clones, Hutchinson is poised for an even better 2021 campaign. He’s had a terrific off-season and is said to have taken another step forward, meaning he is going to be a walking Moss-machine this fall.

2020 Receiving Stats

There might be ten guys on the roster this season that could be “The Dude” as a receiver this season, but Hutchinson is a safe bet for who will be Purdy’s favorite wide-out.

The Backups

Backups isn’t the right term. It’s more like “reinforcements.” You could potentially have guys like Joe Scates and Daniel Jackson to name a few come off the bench and get a lot of action. As mentioned before, the incoming freshman could make an immediate impact. Not to mention, Darren Wilson Jr. and Aidan Bitter will see the field as well.

At the beginning of last season, the passing game was sort of a one trick pony in terms of where the ball was going in the passing game. As the season went on, different receivers came on to the scene. “The top-ten Iowa State Cyclones” term won’t last long if the ‘Clones even get a whiff of being a one trick pony like they were early last season.

With the tight end room being as loaded as it is with receiving talent, it’s even more important to have that depth at receiver so Brock Purdy can really spread things out. I said it in last year’s preview, but this receiving room just keeps getting better and we once again hear ourselves saying this is the best receiving group the Whirlybirds have ever had.

2021 Prediction

Eight different receivers caught a pass last season. Only five of the eight had more than five receptions. With the 2019 departure of Hakeem Butler, it was hard to say going into 2020 who would be the next big receiver for Iowa State, but going into 2021, there might be four or five big receivers that see the field consistently. That being said, every single guy has the opportunity to open another side of the playbook once Charlie Kolar is getting double covered and Breece Hall is getting shut down (ain’t gonna happen but hypothetical).

The biggest “it” factor is whether or not some of the receivers can continually take steps forward throughout the season. Guys like Joey Scates and Sean Shaw come to mind. Both of them have been in the program a few years now and the timing is perfect for them to step up their game.

That’s what is going to get this team to a new level. The beauty of the wide-outs this season is the amount of depth the offense has to work with meaning that it could be a number of guys that step up and make big plays. We’ve seen guys like Scates and Shaw make big plays, but who can do it consistently?

Inject this into my veins.

The 1 thing that you can count on with the Fighting Matt Campbells is that each player is going to get better every single day, meaning that all these guys have another full offseason of getting better all the time. Having this many options on the squad is not only huge for the pass game, but can make some major impacts on other aspects of the offense. Breece Hall is going to get a lot of attention from every defense, as will Kolar, so having that 3rd, 4th, 5th guy that can step up and make plays takes the offense to a new level.

Joey Scates and Sean Shaw Jr. both have a few years under their belts, and continue to prove themselves whenever a ball is thrown their direction. Darren Wilson and Daniel Jackson are both coming off of injury plagued seasons and are hungry for some action. Tristan Michaud and Jaylin Noel are some exciting freshman will all the upside in the world. Tarique Milton is going to do Tarique Milton things. Expect big things from the Cyclones receiving group.