Juco players get their turn at Iowa State
At least eight transfers are expected to play Thursday for Cyclones vs. Kent State.
Ames, Ia. - Allen Bell noticed a difference the moment he gritted his teeth.
Junior college can be a bland experience, but Iowa State's starting left cornerback savored his first taste of major college football.
"Mouthpieces here are individually molded, so the only person who can wear your mouthpiece is you," said Bell, who spent one season at Independence (Kan.) Community College.
"In junior college, they give you this big block and you've got to bite down on it. If you drop it out, you might be playing a week or two without a mouthpiece."
Bell is among at least eight transfers expected to play Thursday in the Cyclones' opener against Kent State.
New coach Gene Chizik recruited heavily from two-year schools in hopes of adding depth and speeding up the rebuilding process.
"I don't see that being something that hopefully we have to do as we go on down the line," Chizik said during Monday's news conference. "It's nothing against junior-college players, but by the time they figure out what's going on, they're waving goodbye to you."
Bell, however, has three years of eligibility remaining. He earned juco all-America honors last fall and averaged more than 18 yards as a punt returner.
He is listed ahead of Zac Sandvig on Iowa State's most recent depth chart. Both will be counted on to help shore up a secondary that allowed opponents to complete 72.5 percents of their passes.
"It'll be really interesting to see how (Bell) grows in his college career, because he's more like a high school guy who has red-shirted," Chizik said. "He brings some speed to the table."
Bell and running back J.J. Bass both joined the Cyclones at the start of summer workouts.
Bass, who started his career at El Camino (Calif.) Community College, is competing to be the No. 1 tailback, but Chizik won't choose a first-stringer until later this week.
"For me to tell you right now who the definitive starter is, I can't," Chizik said. "It would be unfair for us to do that at this point, simply because they don't even know."
The areas most in need of junior-college infusion were the offensive and defensive lines.
Doug Dedrick, from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College, arrived last spring and became the starting left tackle.
Joe Blaes, from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, is a reserve guard.
Christopher Lyle, from Butler Community College, will likely contribute at defensive end. Chris Weir, from Independence Community College, is a backup defensive tackle.
Arnaud in waiting: Chizik talked Monday about possibly using more than one quarterback against Kent State.
Bret Meyer is the undisputed starter, but Austen Arnaud, a redshirt freshman from Ames, may take a few snaps.
"We'd like to play two, maybe three if we could," Chizik said.
Arnaud is the front-runner to replace Meyer, a senior, as the starter next season.
Recruiting news: The San Antonio Express reported that Iowa State has received a verbal commitment from quarterback Jerome Tiller, from Lee High School. He reportedly chose the Cyclones over Minnesota and Purdue.
Season tickets: As of Monday, 35,520 season tickets had been sold for Iowa State football.