Earlier this week, I spoke about the players that Iowa State has already signed to the class of 2016 - JUCOs and transfers. Now, we delve into the 4- and 5-year players that will shape the long-term future of Matt Campbell's team.
In other words, this is the foundation for 2017 and beyond. Now, there are a few studs that may be too good to not put on the field during the upcoming season, but the majority will take a redshirt, live in the weight room and learn the playbook and culture of ISU football.
The amazing part is that the majority of these players didn't receive offers from this new ISU staff until December. Some were targets when the coaches were at Toledo, but to pick up so many verbal commits in a matter of a few weeks truly shows that this young staff can sell.
So far, there are 11 offensive commits and 11 defensive commits. Today, we touch on the offense.
2016 ISU Verbal Commits - Offense
OL Sean Foster
We start off with the leader of the class, and at 6-foot-8 and 285 pounds, definitely the biggest of the bunch. Foster is the highest ranked recruit to come to Ames since Allen Lazard in 2014, and will be a staple for years to come in Campbell's run-first offense. Foster comes to Ames by way of Mundelein, Illinois - another sign that this staff is targeting players within the upper Midwest.
Foster had over a dozen Power 5 offers, among those were Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Duke, Minnesota, NC State, Boston College and Kentucky. He de-committed from Minnesota and opened back up his recruiting services after Jerry Kill resigned. Foster is a 4-star prospect, and is ranked as the 32nd best offensive tackle in the 2016 class. The best part - his dad played for the University of Iowa.
OL Keenan Forbes
This staff continues to focus in the trenches, and picked up Forbes' commitment last weekend. The 6-foot-3 lineman from Florida brings toughness to the table and was sought after by multiple BCS schools. He is ranked as a 3-star recruit, and picked ISU over Temple.
Forbes is a carryover from Campbell when he coached at Toledo, and the staff has been after the big offensive lineman for quite some time. The plan is for Forbes to play guard at the next level, and he will more than likely redshirt in 2016.
OL Josh Mueller
Why not one more hog mollie? This time it is rough and tough Josh Mueller out of Wisconsin. Mueller was previously recruited by the Rhoads staff, and was reaffirmed by Campbell and company after they made multiple visits to the cheesehead state for Mueller's services.
The 6-foot-6 lineman had played on the defensive front until his senior year, when he switched to offensive line and picked up traction from multiple colleges. Mueller is a 2-star recruit according to Scout, and is a 3-star according to Rivals. He had offers from Illinois, Hawaii, Ball State, Buffalo, Eastern Illinois and Eastern Michigan.
TE/OL Dylan Soehner
Tight end Dylan Soehner had three visits lined up: Purdue, Illinois and ISU. He took his first visit to Ames and then cancelled his next two visits. The 2-star recruit out of Arkansas has great hands and could turn into another lineman once he grows into his 6-foot-7 frame.
Soehner has good size, and at 260 pounds, will more than likely redshirt. He is the only tight end for the 2016 class, and will add depth to a position that is currently lacking talent on Iowa State's roster.
RB Kene Nwangwu
Hailing from Texas, this speedy running back was another previous target from the Rhoads staff. Keeping running back coach Louis Ayeni helped retain the relationship with Nwangwu, and he verbally committed to the new staff while on a visit to Ames for the Iowa basketball game in December.
Nwangwu is known for turning on the jets, as he hit pay dirt 35 times his senior year for Heritage High in Frisco, Texas. He also runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, and averaged 7.6 yards per carry. Nwangwu was courted by in-state rival Iowa, along with Indiana, Northwestern and Kansas. He's a 3-star recruit.
WR Jalen Martin
Martin is another prized recruit from this class, and comes to Ames by way of Harper Woods, Michigan. The 6-foot-3 receiver is ranked as the 136th best in the nation, and was originally a commit to Campbell at Toledo. It also helped that Martin knew fellow Michigan native Monte Morris and played AAU ball against the Cyclone point guard in high school.
Martin may have too much talent to keep off the field his first year, but then again, ISU has a stacked wide receiving corps already. The receiver is a 3-star recruit, and had offers from Syracuse, Toledo, Miami (OH), and Eastern Michigan to name a few.
OL/LS Steven Wirtel
The Campbell staff made it a priority to sign a long snapper, and got a good one in Chicago native Steven Wirtel. Ranked as the 6th best long snapper by (former ISU kicker Jamie) Kohl's Kicking, Wirtel had visits set up for both Illinois and Georgia. While neither program offered a scholarship, ISU did and that won him over. Only 207 pounds, it is yet to be determined if he will play line at the next level, but he will definitely be the man next year for long snaps.
Looking at this class from an offensive perspective, it is pretty clear what Campbell and crew are trying to do: develop talent in the trenches. They believe in order to win, you have to have solid line play, and they have laid the foundation for that by inking four linemen.
ISU already has a plethora of playmakers on the roster, and young ones at that. This staff is still targeting a QB by way of JUCOs to backup Lanning, and could also add some more depth at the receiver/tight end position.
The next article in our class of 2016 series will touch on the high school defensive verbal commits. Stay tuned!