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  1. #1
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    Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    We all know that there’s more than one way to skin a duck. Or is that, to pluck a cat? Well, it all comes down to the fact that Gene Chizik knows that he must upgrade certain areas of his team’s athleticism—and there’s more than one way to go about that process. One way is to recruit athletic players at one position, and build them into athletes at a “larger” position—for example, turning linebackers into defensive tackles. Bo Schembechler at Michigan tried this with limited success in the early Eighties, Iowa currently has a pair of overstuffed defensive ends playing tackle. James Reed would be Iowa State’s most prominent example. Such a transformation is much easier to make with tight ends, turning them into offensive linemen, and the examples there abound.

    However, as Michigan eventually discovered, it is much easier to recruit talented natural defensive tackles, and let them become bigger defensive tackles. The raw athleticism is there, without having to put additional strain on a player’s system. So yes, the second avenue to improving your team’s athleticism is simply to recruit better athletes in the first place.

    Right now, Gene Chizik, still bearing the fresh patina of a “new coach”, can rest on those laurels to attract those talented athletes. Yet such an aura quickly fades, and would be much more effective augmented by Showing Progress. All right, so I don’t expect the Cyclones to suddenly jump to a mid-range Bowl game in the second year of building—but it would be nice. And would certainly open recruits’ eyes.

    Let’s look at how things are going thus far. In most eyes Chizik’s top recruit in the ’08 class was Sedrick Johnson (and we’ll get back to him in a moment), but if you consider sheer athleticism and potential, ignoring recruiting hype and “stars”, then Adrin Haughton arguably is right there with him. Indeed, the only reason that Haughton wasn’t rated much higher is that the big programs didn’t expect him to qualify. Another example of that phenomena? A kid named Troy Davis.

    But Haughton is big, powerful, athletic, agile, sculpted, and most impressively, fit. At perhaps 6-3 310 (I’m being conservative), he has a body many pros would envy. All the more important when you consider the state of our offensive line in recent years, where the adjectives most often applied might well have been “glacial”, “stiff” and “tub o’ goo”. The problem began when Seneca Wallace started being massacred, and continued through Brett Meyer’s tenure. Why anyone blames Meyer for the offense’s shortcomings is beyond me.

    Yet it’s blatantly obvious that the most crucial area of the team whose athleticism needed upgrading was the offensive line. If an average line’s athleticism rated a ‘50’ on a scale of 1 to 100, some of these guys were a minus twenty-five. And I say that as a guy who not only watched Keith Sims play, but knew him in passing. Now there was an athlete.

    So what did Chizik do in his first class, but go out and sign Trey Baysinger, Keleche Osemele and James Carpenter. All of them were under the radar foir one reason or another, indeed, Carpenter didn’t manage to qualify—though he’ll be a December Juco grad. Baysinger didn’t emerge until his senior season at powerhouse Dallas Carter, and we still might not have gotten him had Kansas had another scholly. Osemele reported last fall with a slight problem with adipose tissue—in other words, too much of it.

    But while these guys are all good athletes, Haughton takes that term to another level. I can’t guess where he might play, assuming that he does qualify—where does the proverbial 500 lb gorilla sit? Wherever he wants to. Call it center, call it left guard, Haughton could even be an upgrade in strength and athleticism at left tackle. Perhaps splitting time with a scrappy senior Doug Dedrick. His natural position might be left guard, but Ben Lamaak seems to be solid there.

    And it is certainly a process, for Baysinger, Osemele, and Haughton hardly make a starting five, let alone a two deep. All right, so Brayden Burris, Carter Bykowski or Kyle Lichtenberg might eventually play at a similar level—but it won’t be any time soon. And even if each of these three pans out, it still isn’t a two deep…let alone the three deep that most teams assemble through four or five years, including redshirting. However, they are a starting point.

    In a similar manner, Sed Johnson, Jason Carlson and Lonzie Range represent a similar revolution at wideout. We won’t even start on Collin Franklin and Chase Harper at tight end. Think of all the physical attributes that Todd Blythe represented. Tall, good speed, excellent leaping ability, able to take it to the house. Johnson has all of those same attributes—in spades. Whatever vertical leap Todd had, Sedrick’s is better. And on and on. Marquis Hamilton and R.J. Sumrall are good athletes, Carlson and Range are better. Not to mention faster—a key ingredient in any football stew. And you know very well that Chizik won’t sit on a pat hand, he’ll be bringing in more wide receivers next February.

    About the only position that didn’t need an upgrade in athleticism was cornerback—and I very carefully did not say defensive back—and that position most decidedly needed depth. Chris Singleton, Devin McDowell and the departed Drenard Williams decidedly had athleticism, they just needed company. So Allen Bell was a start, and Ter’ran Benton, Leonard Johnson and Judah Linder, let alone Kennard Banks, are a big infusion of talent. I’d expect a similar revolution at safety this signing period, since graduation will sweep away half the depth chart.

    Quarterback? Austen Arnaud throws a gorgeous ball with a quick release, and has a cannon arm. Phillip Bates is an exceptional athlete. If Jerome Tiller—and those who come after him—are as good as those two, this team will be in good hands for a very long time.

    Of course, these aren’t the only positions where we’ve seen an influx of athleticism, and some upgrades seem yet to happen (kaffmiddlelinebackerkaff). However, I have faith that those upgrades in talent and depth will come, that Gene Chizik and his staff have a plan, and that it is working effectively.

    Cameron Bell, Chris Lyle, Bo Williams, Jerrod Black…


    Last edited by Aclone; 06-10-2008 at 03:48 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    "But Haughton is big, powerful, athletic, agile, sculpted, and most impressively, fit. At perhaps 6-3 410"

    Huh?


    While on live TV, Ford used a vulgar term to describe a private part of the female anatomy, adding that he was “happily married” and “got more than enough to eat at home.”

  3. #3
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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Architect View Post
    "But Haughton is big, powerful, athletic, agile, sculpted, and most impressively, fit. At perhaps 6-3 410"

    Huh?
    Look out he's a load.



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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Architect View Post
    "But Haughton is big, powerful, athletic, agile, sculpted, and most impressively, fit. At perhaps 6-3 410"

    Huh?
    Typo fixed, thanks.



  5. #5
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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    Lot of good prospects, but right now they are mostly prospects. Can't wait to see it equal success on the field.



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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    I LOVE what Chizik and McFarland are doing on the OL. Gone are the Fine days when we searched out the biggest, fattest Iowa kid and offered a scholarship. Instead, the staff has focused on finding ATHELETES there. Some are tall and thinner and need to add muscle (Burris, Lichtenburg, Clark, Bykowski, Hulbert). Some are athletic freaks (Carpenter, Haughton, Baysinger, Lamaak). Some are just big players that could possibly lose some pounds (KO, Hicks, Stephens). But they have one thing in common: athleticism. Yeah, I know the new staff didn't recruit Hulbert, Lamaak and Stephens, but they fit into the philosophy well. I just think that they are putting a lot of the puzzle pieces together.

    For the first time that I can remember, the ISU OL is going to have some depth. And I'm not talking 1-2 guys that can play if someone gets hurt, I'm talking 5-7 guys behind the starters that can play. That depth is going push the starters and make the entire OL better. In the past, if you looked at a two-deep, you'd see some players that clearly weren't ready to play...guys that weighed 270 and were basically holding a spot. Things are different now. And really, what better spot to be great at than OL? They make the running game go. They give young QBs more time to throw.

    I think that the pipeline is now set up and all it needs is yearly restocking. Now they need to get the same thing going on the DL and ISU will start making some waves.


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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    I am very happy with the recruits that Chizik is bringing in.. I think we will definitely start to see some results on the field starting THIS year.. We may not improve our W L record by much, i'm predicting 5-7, BUT i think we WILL be more competitive due to our running game. Thanks for posting Aclone!



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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    I'm hoping to be surprised at LB this year. The guys that'll be stepping in should be there for a couple years, so I hope they're good.


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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    I mentioned this before. But I think that the coaching staff thinks the crown jewel of last year's recruiting class was Haughton. Also, I was more or less told point blank that we did very very well in our defensive back recruiting and got pretty much all of the players that we had targeted.

    At linebacker, I really like Jesse Smith. He is a throwback to the days that he just has so much heart and determination. The young man will give it all he has and run through a brick wall for you, plus he plays pretty smart. He plays to win....period. Remember that we have Cameron Bell at linebacker and still have Bibbs and Raven and Garrin. Schmidgall is another guy who plays tough and smart. And at the safeties, James Smith is darn good. Brown has done a nice job. And we have a few others so we should be okay.

    Defensive line, we will miss Tuba. But I think Kurtis Taylor is primed for a big year. And I think Black, Frere, Johnson and some others will do a serviceable job.

    The key to the next season is quarterback. If Bates or Arnaud can play well we will finish with a 6-6 record or better. I think they are both better than Meyer right now. These young men play the position a lot smarter and we will have less turnovers. Our line and backs should be better so that should take off some of the heat.

    Every game we will play will be a tough one. But I really think that the biggest change in our team is the mental attitude. They actually think they have a shot at every team on the schedule. They just have to play hard and play smart. Look for the team to continue to improve on how they ended the season last year.



  10. #10
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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormin View Post
    The key to the next season is quarterback. If Bates or Arnaud can play well we will finish with a 6-6 record or better. I think they are both better than Meyer right now. These young men play the position a lot smarter and we will have less turnovers. Our line and backs should be better so that should take off some of the heat.
    I believe they are just as good as Meyer right now, if not better but one thing that really scares me is turnovers from the two of them. They are young and have too much pressure to win that starting job, that I think they will force a lot and try to make things happen when they get a shot.

    Just guessing.



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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    I am cautiously optimistic about Arnaud/Bates. I'm as excited as any about the potential at QB but I don't wait to build up unrealistic expectations for their first true year under center.

    Everyone has to realize going into this season that neither have seen heavy amounts of PT in intense game situations. (minus K-State game for Arnaud) So don't be too dissapointed if the learning curve takes a little longer than expected.

    Another discussion point:

    I love watching Arnaud's deep passes and his swing passes seem to be very strong. What I haven't seen much of are his mid-range balls. To me these are the most important throws in football. This will make or break a team's passing game. Could anyone that has had the chance to watch Austin throw quite a bit shed a little light on this?

    We didn't have the chance to see many mid-range balls from Austin last season bc it seemed (to me) that every pass was either a deep ball or a short swing/screen. Any insight from anyone would be appreciated.

    Otherwise: I love the potential of the O-line (make or break of a football team) The d-backs look athletic. But, I'm still nervous about the D-Line. If we can't get any pressure on the QB it won't matter how athletic our dbacks our.



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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    I think McF will "baby" the QBs a little this year until they (whoever wins the job) get some serious PT under their belt (4-5 games). By this I mean I think we will RUN THE BALL a lot. Our OL is bigger and better, and we have a stable of 3 very capable, and potentially really good RBs. As I have said before, I would love to see JJ and ARob get 20 carries a game each, at least in the first few games, and we know Scales can get the job done at times. That will allow the QBs to get their bearings, keeping the majority of their throws as play-action and/or screens, and mixing in a deep ball here and there to keep the D honest. I would only have them doing normal drop-back passing in "true" passing situations, such as 3rd and long.



  13. #13
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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    there you guys go again.... getting me all amp'ed up about FB and our coaching staff... with 77 days to go.

    -keep


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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    Quote Originally Posted by keepngoal View Post
    there you guys go again.... getting me all amp'ed up about FB and our coaching staff... with 77 days to go.
    ...I've been ready since the countdown timer went up! I was actually told by a coworker yesterday that it is not time to talk football yet. I responded with the correct countdown to kickoff!



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    Re: Recruiting and Improving Athleticism

    I think they are both better than Meyer right now.
    So, why didn't they start last year? They both appear to be great athletes, but they are both pretty green while Meyer was a four year starter. You guys always blast Hawk fans for these types of comments.



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