AMES — Paul Rhoads is a compelling speaker but even his words can be upstaged by something – an ice cream truck.
As the fifth-year head coach delivered his post-practice speech, the heavenly beeps, burps and music started distracting players.
Minutes later, an ice cream truck arrived to reward the Cyclones for a job well done. For nearly two weeks, Iowa State players have been busting their humps in practice.
Perhaps no position more so than wide receiver.
“We are really young, but I think we are really talented,” Iowa State wide receivers coach Todd Sturdy said. “We have a great room. Great attitude, great work ethic.
“It’s a lot of fun coaching these guys. They all want to be really good. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
The Cyclones also better be quick learners. The starters on the depth chart combined to catch 21 passes last year. Quenton Bundrage caught 20 of those and could become one of Iowa State’s go-to guys in 2013.
“He’s a guy that we’ve got to lean on heavily,” Sturdy said. “I’m starting to see more leadership out of him on the field.”
As a sophomore, Bundrage is one of the elder statesmen among the wide outs. In fact, one of his teammates – just a year younger grade-wise – has a unique nickname for him.
“From (Quenton), I learned a lot from him,” Dondre Daley said. “He even calls me his little nephew, I call him uncle.”
Old man Bundrage is ready to take the next step this season. A year ago, the Palmetto, Fla., native flashed potential. Now, he’s ready to show it more consistently.
That started with getting to know the playbook better.
“Once you know everything, you play better and you play faster,” Bundrage said.
He is also taking on more of a leadership role, using his knowledge to help out his teammates on the field and in the film room.
Daley is one of the players benefitting most under Bundrage’s tutelage. After redshirting last season, Daley said he has fined tuned his game by cleaning up his short routes.
Don’t worry, he can still go get the long ball.
“With his length and his speed and his ability to separate, he is a threat in the passing game for sure,” Sturdy said.
What the Cyclones lack in experience, they make up for in potential. Tad Ecby, P.J. Harris, Quan West and Daley are all in line to see a lot of snaps this fall.
“I’m looking forward to it a lot,” Daley said. “I’ve been dreaming to play college football my whole life.”
The only wide receiver position Iowa State does return experience is flanker. There, senior Justin Coleman sits atop the depth chart in front of junior Jarvis West and senior Albert Gary.
West and Gary have both had big games in the past. If Coleman plays like he has been practicing, he could soon join the group.
“In all the different situations you get in in football, (Coleman) always seems to do the right thing,” Sturdy said.
That can only help another young player on the Cyclones’ roster – sophomore quarterback Sam Richardson. Iowa State is young, but fans may have a lot of fun watching them grow up together.