Welcome to our 2022 position previews, where we will spend the last few weeks before kickoff going over each position group for the 2022 team, this week will be the offense, and next week will be the defense. Today, it’s the wide-outs.
Iowa State’s biggest departures in the passing game really weren’t even receivers, being the trio of Chase Allen, Charlie Kolar, and Breece Hall out of the backfield. Tarique Milton and Joseph Scates entered the transfer portal and ended up at Texas and Memphis, respectfully. Milton being the only important ISU athlete to transfer to Texas this offseason. That’s all I have to say about that.
If you’re a numbers person, Iowa State returns 47% of their receptions while bringing back 48.5% of receiving yards. This is a great segue into the new guys!
Iowa State brought in five freshmen from the 2022 class. The Cyclones also brought on former four-star recruit Dimitri Stanley from Colorado via the transfer portal. A guy to keep your eyes on is Jason Essex, a 6-3 big body kid from Kansas City. He has the body of the past ISU great pass catchers, but he will have to earn every snap he plays.
Dimitri Stanley had just 15 catches for 130 yards and one score a year ago with Colorado while returning punts for the Buffs. Will he come here and become an X-factor for the Clones? Not sure, but he’s an excellent mid-route runner that could definitely find his role in the offense.
Quaron Adams brings something to the table that maybe Iowa State has been missing in seasons past. The three-star running back prospect (yes, running back) has speed that kills. As a freshman, he ran a 10.49 100-meter dash. It took me at least 10.5 seconds to type that sentence (I’m a slow typist, lay off). At 5 foot-8 inches, he has a very similar play style to Tyreek Hill or Tavon Austin. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Aiden, how could you compare a kid who has never played a snap of college football to some of the most electric players of our generation?” And to that I say “shut up, this is my article.” By that I mean he can take hand-offs, screens, or even pop the top off a defense. The kid is electric. I’m not sure if Adams will see the field during his freshman season, but look out if he does. Check out his highlights here.
I think the most exciting player of the newcomers is four-star wide-out Greg Gaines III. Gaines, out of Tampa, Florida, stands at 6-2 and weighs 185, which is solid for any 18-year-old. Ranked 42nd amongst receivers in the country in his class, Gaines has the opportunity to be special at Iowa State. He catches everything thrown in his direction. I say “in his direction” lightly. It was more of his quarterback saying “he’s out there somewhere” and Gaines was able to come down with anything. Wearing #0 is also dope as hell. High hopes for someone who is amongst the best athletes on the entire team. Check out his highlights here.
Leader Of The Pack
Xavier Hutchinson is that guy. In 2021, he reeled in a school-record 83 receptions (Tracy Henderson - 81, 1983) while racking up 987 yards and 5 touchdowns in a 1st Team All-Big 12 campaign. Not to mention, he posted an 841.6 QBR with a 49-yard touchdown pass. Already this year, he has been named to the Maxwell Award and Biletnikoff Award Watch Lists, while also being named a 4th team Preseason All-American by Phil Steele.
At this point in his career, we all know who Hutch is. He is going to make it an easy transition for Hunter Dekkers, who now has the keys to the offense. The Clonies have a Mr. Reliable in the 5th-year senior.
Very loose term here. I think we will see a great mix of guys in the early season until Dekkers finds his rhythm with a certain group of receivers. We have the aforementioned freshman, but there are the guys returning who made a difference last year. Specifically, Jaylin Noel, Sean Shaw Jr., Daniel Jackson, and Darren Wilson Jr. Those four guys had a combined 63 catches, 491 yards, and 1 TD a year ago, but they will all see increased roles in 2022. Jaylin Noel was the outlier of those four, seeing his role increase as the 2021 season went on. With the departure of Tarique Milton, Noel is a great guy to fill the role of catching swing routes, touch passes, and anything in between. The other three saw fairly limited snaps, but we’ll see a lot of them this year without having tight end galore.
ISU 2022 Receiving Predictions
|Sean Shaw Jr.
|Quaron Adams/Greg Gaines III
|Darren Wilson Jr.
Here’s what I got. Not including tight ends or running backs, I feel good that Hutchinson will get his, Noel is the next guy up, and then Dekkers will spread the wealth. I do expect Iowa State to keep the ball on the ground in the early going, but as the season goes on I would imagine we get to see Dekkers unleash his rocket arm.
Iowa State seems to keep getting more and more athletic at the receiver position, this year is following that trend. A lot of guys who have been in the program but maybe have not gotten the chance to shine, with a mix of exciting young guys.