By Ian Smith, CycloneFanatic.com ContributorFollow Ian on Twitter @IanWsmith3
AMES – Take a long look at Iowa State’s defensive line recruits. They are the new breed of Cyclones – long and explosive.
For example, take maybe the most highly-touted of the group, Pierre Aka. The Indianapolis native stands 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, runs a 4.6 forty-yard dash and can bench press more than 325 pounds.
Best of all? Aka is only 17 years old.
“We are trying to increase our size, both height and weight, at the defensive end position,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. “(Aka) comes in and already at about 245 pounds now, who knows what it will be in June when he arrives, and that addresses that defensive end position.”
Aka is so athletic, he thought about playing tight end in college before he realized how much of a weapon he could be on the other side of the ball.
Aka is just the beginning of a strong defensive line class. Believe Rhoads when he says, “The hardest position to recruit nationally is defensive line.” Fortunately for Iowa State, when you beat teams like Oklahoma State, recruits take notice.
Morrissey’s dedication leads to ISU
Cory Morrissey is a warrior on the football field and in the weight room. Standing 6-foot-4, 240 pounds Morrissey hopes to use his length and quickness to attack opposing quarterbacks.
After attending Iowa Western for one season, Morrissey has a chance to be in the mix at defensive end as early as the 2012 opener.
Bevins talented on field and mat
Collin Bevins is a perfect fit for a Paul Rhoads defensive lineman. Why? Because he is 6-foot-5, 250 pounds and one heck of a wrestler.
“You can’t recruit enough wrestlers,” Rhoads said. “The specific reasons why is they have great leverage. They have great confidence. And they have a mental toughness that I don’t know exists in any other sport.”
Bevins is currently ranked No. 1 in Class 2A at 285 pounds for Creston high school. Along with Bevins, recruits Adam Pavlenko and Kane Seeley are also No. 1 ranked wrestlers.
Those skills translate well on the football field, especially in the trenches. Bevins played both ways last season, earning a Des Moines Register Elite All-State selection on the defensive line.
Meyers and Cousin add bulk
Rhoads and his staff will pair the speed of Morrissey, Aka and Bevins with the bulk and strength of Mitchell Meyers and Devlyn Cousin. Meyers and Cousin both weigh more than 265 pounds and while they may not see significant minutes next year, they should add size to Cyclones in the future.
“The closer you get the line of scrimmage, the harder it is to play sooner in your career,” Rhoads said. “There is just a violent, physical level of play that happens so fast the closer you are to the football.”
Meyers – who is 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds – twice earned all-district honors playing at the Woodlands High School in Texas. In his senior season, Meyers recorded 56 tackles and seven tackles for a loss.
Much like Meyers, Cousin can get after the quarterback. Last season, the 6-foot-2, 285-pound defensive tackle prospect had six sacks and 48 tackles. Cousin – who hails from St. Mary’s Georgia – chose Iowa State over offers from Kansas and Vanderbilt.