By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
At halftime of Friday night’s 86-76 Iowa State basketball victory over Iowa, coach Paul Rhoads gave a passionate speech to the sold out Hilton Coliseum crowd with the entire Cyclone football team in attendance.
At the conclusion of Rhoads’ speech, the Hilton Coliseum sound system bumped Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” in reference to Iowa State’s upcoming trip to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City.
Iowa State’s dominating first half reminded me of another Jay-Z lyric from the song “All I Need.”
That’s when the man the kids call "Hova" says, “Well, I guess I got my swagger back.”
I sensed that from the Cyclones in the Cy-Hawk victory.
Maybe it was the amped up atmosphere. Maybe it was the fact that they were playing a high-major opponent. Maybe it’s simply that this team is finally starting to gel? Or maybe I’m just imagining things. Something seemed to have clicked though.
I’ll give credit where it is due too. The Hawkeyes never quit and made things a tad bit interesting in the last three minutes of the contest.
But that game was never in doubt.
OFFENSIVE LINE RECRUITING: Yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview the newest member of Iowa State’s football program, 2012 offensive line commitment Jacob Dunning of Leander, Texas.
As I wrote IN THIS PIECE, Dunning only has two years of football experience on his belt right now.
Some might refer to the 6-foot-5, 265-pound offensive tackle as a "project."
I’ll tell you this. After chatting with him for a good 10 minutes, Dunning is a "project" who has his head on straight. That’s the best kind of "project" to add to a football program.
Dunning is a bright young man with a solid physical frame. At this point, it’s hard to question anything that Paul Rhoads and Bill Bleil decide to do with offensive linemen. Through three years, the staff has a pretty good track record at that position.
— Speaking of that, I decided to do a little bit of research regarding Iowa State’s offensive line recruiting since Paul Rhoads got to town. Assuming that Dunning and fellow 2012 commitment Daniel Burton ink with the Cyclones, Rhoads has signed 14 offensive linemen in four classes.
Rhoads’ plan was to build this program from the inside-out. So far, so good.
For those who want to see the linemen by class, I’ve listed them below.
2009: Kyle Lichtenberg, Zack Spears
2010: Jon Caspers, Jacob Gannon, Shaban Dika, Ben Loth, Bob Graham, Tom Farniok
2011: Brock Dagel, Jamison Lalk, Oni Omoile, Sam tautolo
2012: Jacob Dunning, Daniel Burton
Last thing on recruiting…Really, what high school kid isn’t a "project?" Know what I mean?
VOLLEYBALL RULES: My wife was out of town on Saturday night. You know what that means…It was poker night at the Williams house. However, poker night was dominated by a bunch of guys intensely watching Iowa State’s volleyball team lose in the fifth game of the Elite Eight.
I used to do a little volleyball play-by-play back in my old job. I must admit that when it is played well, volleyball is one of the most entertaining sports to watch in my opinion. I love the game.
Saturday night’s broadcast on ESPNU was as entertaining as they come.
Christy Johnson-Lynch is a rockstar in the sport and something tells me that Iowa State will be a power in volleyball for decades to come.
— CycloneFanatic.com’s women’s college basketball writer Ian Smith took yesterday off. I covered Iowa State’s 30-point win over Mississippi Valley State for him. Where was Ian you ask? Ian, a diehard Broncos fan, was in Denver watching more Tim Tebow heroics. Not a bad game to head west for my man.
— Speaking of Tebow, did anybody else see this spot on ESPN yesterday, where legendary coach Mike Ditka loses his cool on ESPN analyst Merril Hoge? Good times…
— I’m a big fan of Iowa State’s marketing department. The folks in the Jacobson Building realize that in Ames, Iowa, you have to get creative to get noticed at times. One of the best moves that these folks have made over the last few years is implementing that Cyclone siren at Jack Trice Stadium and now Hilton Coliseum. That thing is fantastic. It really puts a stamp on an already fantastic atmosphere.