By Trevor Enerson, CycloneFanatic.com Fan Blogger/Recruiting Guru
A little under a month ago, I took a look at the offensive side of the ball in a blog.
There weren’t many glaring needs that I saw. Iowa State has already addressed quarterback, running back and a wide receiver in 2012. Outside of depth builders on the offensive line and at tight end nothing stands out. Now, I’ll move to the other side of the ball, which seems to be a completely different story.
Defensive Tackle – Let’s face it folks. At least for the next few years, Iowa State will always be able to take defensive tackles. Almost any coach in the nation will tell you that it is the hardest position to recruit because of the lack of 300 pound guys with quality athleticism. These guys don’t grow on trees. In 2011 the Cyclones found Quintin Pompey, who I think has a great future. They also signed a JUCO defensive tackle in Henry Simon, who will hopefully be able to contribute for two years. Both of those guys were very important. Iowa State will lose Stephen Ruempolhamer after this year and then outside of Jake McDonough, everyone else is an unknown. This year, I think there is a need to find two more guys. I’m not real concerned with age either. If Iowa State goes with two high school players, then they should still have time to get them where they need to be by the time they are called upon. If one is a JUCO, then that is another contributor for the next two years. Something I keep in mind with defensive tackles is that often times it will take two years for them to be able to contribute significantly. With that being considered, a JUCO guy isn’t a bad way to go. Another possibility is bringing in a defensive end who eventually grows to play defensive tackle.
Defensive Ends – Iowa State needs some. The program will lose Jacob Lattimer and Patrick Neal this year and will then lose Cleyon Laing, Rony Nelson and Roosevelt Maggitt the following. There are probably two more in the 2011 class but even with those men, that only gives the program two guys left who have seen any sort of time – Willie Scott and Aaron Moore. In the 2011 class, Iowa State has David Irving, who will certainly land at defensive and hopefully another guy moves in there at some point. My guess is Devin Lemke even though he will, according to Paul Rhoads, start at tight end. So, then, what does this program need? I think we need at least one each of rush ends and strong side ends. I would love to see Iowa State pull in two guys who can pressure the quarterback and two guys who can also do that but are perhaps bigger and can stop the run. If I have to prioritize, I am taking rush ends in the Big 12. It is predominately a spread league and pass rushers pay off more often.
Linebacker – Iowa State also need these. Two things have happened over the last two months that have drastically changed the outlook of this position group, in my opinion. Kyle Boyd not coming to ISU is one and Adrian Bennett leaving the program is another. We know that Jake Knott, A.J. Klein and Matt Tau’fo’ou can play at this level. It looks like Jeremiah George and Jevohn Miller will be solid players. But after that, everything is largely unknown. My take is that Iowa State needs to be looking hard for at least couple guys in this position group. Last year, Iowa State took two prospects in Donald Smith and Jevohn Miller. They will help but I still think that the program needs to address the position with three to four guys. I would hope for two larger linebackers and one more who is a speedier, smaller type of player.
Cornerback – Even though things seems to change relatively often at the cornerback and safety positions, I have decided to separate them. Right now, from what I have heard and read, it looks sort of thin to me. After this season, Iowa State will lose Leonard Johnson and Anthony Young. In 2012, Iowa State will lose Jeremy Reeves. Beyond that, Iowa State has a lot of unproven entities. Good things have been said about both Janson Watson and Matt Thomas, however Watson looks to have moved safety and we haven’t seen a lot of Thomas. I am pretty confident that both Kenneth Lynn and Sam Richardson will both be very good players but I still believe that the program needs to build depth at the position, especially when it will be going up against a lot of high functioning passing attacks. In this class I see, Iowa State taking at least two true corners. Brace yourselves, they also may not be six foot tall.
Safety – I am really unsure of this position going forward. I think this year, unless he is playing nickel, you will see a lot of Ter’ran Benton at strong safety. That is about all I know right now.
We have all heard some good things about Jacques Washington, Durrell Givens and Deon Broonfield at free safety but again, we haven’t seen much of those guys on the field outside of some time here and there from Washington. The nice thing is that two of those three guys are sophomores and the other is a junior so if the staff feels that they will be productive it isn’t vital we bring in a guy right away. Outside of Benton at strong safety, I really have no idea what Iowa State has. Earl Brooks is second on the depth chart as a senior and following him is Watson. Watson recently moved form corner to the safety spot and it remains to be seen if that move was because of his skill set or if it was a move because of the depth at that position. I would lean toward the latter because, honestly, I haven’t heard much on Brooks.My hope is that Brooks and Watson can combine to be effective because I think we will see Benton at the nickel often this year. Then, there are a lot of young guys in the two deeps. There are three sophomores (Washington, Watson, Broomfield), one junior (Givens), and two seniors (Benton and Brooks).
Jared Brackens is an interesting prospect from the 2011 class. He could very well come in and play strong safety in the future. Brackens is also a pretty big guy so he could grow into a linebacker. The difficult thing for the staff here is that both positions are needs in my opinion. I see Iowa State taking another two guys with idea that they are safeties in the future. Luke Knott could be one of those guys. Strong safety is probably the larger need of the two positions right now.
I ended up with around 12 guys needed on the defensive side of the ball. That sounds about right if we think Iowa State is going to have a class of 20 which is a very early, rough prediction of the number of kids the program will sign. I had Iowa State going light on offense and heavy on defense this year and when I broke it down, that’s how it turned out. Outside of depth on the offensive line as well as pass catchers, I just didn’t see huge needs.
The defense is different to me. Paul Rhoads has said numerous times that this will be the deepest Iowa State has ever been but I still have some concerns in the long term on defense. I think at Iowa State, there are positions we will always have concerns with. Defensive tackle is one of them. I don’t think I will ever be able to write that the Cyclones are set there. Defensive end is probably in the same boat. One thing is for certain though: In 2011, the Cyclones will have the depth that they need. There are a lot of guys on the team who can contribute and I am sure the staff will bring in guys in 2012 who continue to help build depth and increase the overall talent level.