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    Twenty Questions, Cyclone Football Style 11-20

    11. Linebacker
    Jesse Smith returns, and both Josh Raven and Michael Bibbs got plenty of experience last season. Even better, Cameron Bell looks to be as impressive an athlete at linebacker as has come down the pike in Cyclone Country in recent memory, and should be a future star. Juniors Derec Schmidgall and Fred Garrin help provide seasoned depth, but one question is how well this unit will meld. After all, despite the speed outside, neither Smith or Schmidgall are racehorses in the middle, and must be compensated for, especially in pass drops. It would also help if a couple of youngsters like redshirt freshmen Curtiz Mathis (6-1 225) and A.J. Mathews (6-3 196) stepped up. Should either Kevin Hamlin or Ernest Ferguson prove good enough to play as true freshmen, even on special teams, it would be a pleasant surprise.

    12. Corner
    The second edition of Last Man Standing—Chris Singleton and Allen Bell are a seasoned pair of corners, with nice support from Devin McDowell. The materialization of a consistent, balanced pass rush will be crucial, but the real question is, where will their support come from against the pass happy teams of the Big 12? Among the gaggle of newcomers, Ter’ran Benton, Leonard Johnson and Judah Linder, along with the aforementioned Banks, at least one or two have to be ready to play. Even more important may be whether the returnees can step up their game—especially, will senior Chris Singleton go out with a bang?

    13. Running Back
    Jason Scales, Alexander Robinson, and J.J. Bass are all known quantities—well, aside from Bass’s injury woes last season, and academics last Spring. The sophomore, Robinson, has a great deal of heart, and this jitterbug has both good hands, and the coaching staff’s confidence. Bass is bigger, stronger and faster, as well as a leader off the field (if not necessarily in the classroom), and we didn’t see his real talent following a shoulder injury. However, I’ll point out that he was still out there, trying. Fellow senior Scales, of course, has heart, and is a thumper without either of his teammates’ quickness or speed—but sometimes a pure slasher is just what you need. Freshman Jeremiah Schwartz is a thumper who should be a good short yardage/change of pace back—perhaps even as a freshman. The question, of course, is whether all three can remain healthy (and eligible), and if one will step forward into a starring role, or whether it will be backs by committee once again.

    14. Sedrick Johnson
    Not to put any pressure on a kid just stepping into college life for the first time, but we’ve all heard a great deal about the sheer athleticism, the hands, and the vertical leap. Turning that all into on-field performance is a significant step, and the last recruit with even a semblance of Johnson’s abilities took a redshirt year to prepare himself before bursting onto the scene. I think he’ll play—we’re in too much need of big play ability (let alone depth at receiver), and Philip Bates showed that even an unschooled great athlete can make a big play at wideout. And Johnson is two or three inches taller. Wideout, kick returner, anywhere else he can help. The question, of course, being just how much ‘big play’ will Sedrick Johnson offer?

    15. Punt Returner
    Frankly, this role is one of the few that can truly change games around. This job was a revolving door the last few seasons, and I, for one, am decidedly not a fan of the “sure hands but slow” school of punt returning. This position requires not only hands, but great stop and start quickness, as well as change of direction ability—pure speed is just a bonus when you reach the open field. All of which, of course, are reasons that I’m looking forward to seeing just what Jason Carlson has to offer—though Leonard Johnson certainly has credentials as well. Devin McDowell is another candidate with experience and the requisite abilities. Give ARob a shot? Time to get some contributions from the punt returners—how long has it been since “The Eel” hit the field?

    16. Scott Haughton
    We seem to have made it past the “Will He Qualify?” question, so next on the list would seem to be “Will He Play As A True Freshman?”—and if so, that question would be immediately followed by “How Much?” and “Where?!!”. Frankly, I think that Haughton is as talented as any of the incoming recruits—yes, including Sedrick Johnson…and Bo. While I think that his best long term position might well be left guard (which would allow Lamaak to slide elsewhere), I could also see him slotted in the rotation at left tackle or center (if he can shotgun snap). For that matter, he appears to have the build and athleticism to challenge either Osemele or Baysinger on the right side. Frankly, Haughton is likely ISU’s best offensive line recruit since the equally unheralded Keith Sims, who likely holds a slight edge over Karl Nelson as ISU’s best offensive lineman ever. And if you start telling me that Haughton can reverse dunk from a flat-footed start as the 6-2 305 Sims could, I might have to revise my estimation upward.

    17. Kick Returner
    Can you say ‘Devin Hester’? Now this is a job that puts a premium on speed and athleticism, because the sooner you get upfield, the less time the defenders have to converge on you. I’m looking forward to Carlson here, but I’ll happily throw anyone at the job. After all, this spot is not only momentum changing, but field position is often half the battle in a game. Wallace Franklin? Give him a shot. J.J. Bass? Trot him out there. Why not trackster Derron Montgomery? Shoot, if Bo Williams were eligible, he’d be one of the first I’d wanna see. Devin McDowell, Chris Singleton, Allen Bell, even Jason Harris, put ’em all out there—best man wins. Oh yeah—would anyone else care to see one more way to get the ball into Sedrick Johnson’s hands?

    18. Hayworth Hicks
    This big guy is a late arrival on the scene, whom Gene Chizik apparently slipped away from under noses as a juco sophomore. At 6-3 323 and a real soph (yes, he was in high school just over a year ago), I can’t guess whether he’ll play this fall or spend the time getting his feet on the ground, learning schemes and working on strength and conditioning. After all, Chizik likes to redshirt juco sophs (Franklin and Alvarez) just as much as he likes playing them (Bell and Lyle). If he is in shape, however, it would be interesting to point him at that reasonably open center position, and see what happens. A road grader in the middle between, say, Lamaak and Osemele could be very interesting. In any event, a long term depth chart that includes the likes of Haughton, Lamaak, Hicks, Osemele and Baysinger practically makes me drool. Cyclones haven’t had a guy this big play center since Pat Augufa.

    19. Punter
    Mike Brandtner hasn’t had the greatest average in the world, but I think that problem will be resolved when he’s not continually kicking to a short field—i.e., when we’re kicking field goals instead. This should work wonders for both his average and his confidence. The real question I have is, All-Conference performer, perhaps?

    20. Strongside End
    The one position I haven’t mentioned yet, and for very good reason. After all, Kurtis Taylor returns for his senior season after finishing second in the conference in sacks, and with Nick Frere having been a solid reserve, plus Travis Ferguson, there isn’t a more solid position on the squad. However, the one real question is, with all three of these guys seniors, what does the future hold? Cleyon Laing (6-3 250) and Jake McDonough (6-5 240) will be true freshmen, but with the existing depth chart, I’d expect them to do their impressing on the scout team. Unless one of them is really good. Either way, I’d like to be hearing good things about them in the Fall—assuming Laing makes it into school.



  2. #2
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    Re: Twenty Questions, Cyclone Football Style 11-20

    Great write up on both, but I just have one problem. I know that these are great players-to-be but putting some your chips on the 3 newcomers you pointed out on this page just scares me a little. Don't get all mad at me either, it's just i don't like seeing everyone talk about an incoming freshman being the early front-man at wide-out. If he was really "that" good he probably would not be playing for us.



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    Re: Twenty Questions, Cyclone Football Style 11-20

    Quote Originally Posted by Swanson10 View Post
    Great write up on both, but I just have one problem. I know that these are great players-to-be but putting some your chips on the 3 newcomers you pointed out on this page just scares me a little. Don't get all mad at me either, it's just i don't like seeing everyone talk about an incoming freshman being the early front-man at wide-out. If he was really "that" good he probably would not be playing for us.
    I'm not sure but perhaps you didn't notice that we have a new set of coaches and a new philosophy. I can agree with your statement for much of of ISU's history but not so much now. We may not yet be able to recruit a full roster of five star sure-things but there are some well-qualified players out there who have detected a change in ISU football and want to be a part of it.

    Take a look. I think you'll like it.


    Whether you think you can or think you can't;
    you are right. Henry Ford

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    Re: Twenty Questions, Cyclone Football Style 11-20

    Quote Originally Posted by Swanson10 View Post
    If he was really "that" good he probably would not be playing for us.
    I dunno about "front" man, but there's certainly an opportunity for Sedrick to contribute.

    Besides, part of the reason we got some of these guys was that to some degree, each was an academic question mark--like Troy Davis. He worked out okay, didn't he?

    Just wish he would have stayed that fourth season...



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    Re: Twenty Questions, Cyclone Football Style 11-20

    Pretty good write up, a couple things you are a little off on though...

    - Schmidgall was moved to middle backer because he can flat out run, Bolt said as much during the spring. Expect him on the field in passing situations.

    - At corner don't forget about Zac Sandvig. Before his injury he was the number 3 corner over McDowell.



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    Re: Twenty Questions, Cyclone Football Style 11-20

    Quote Originally Posted by snowcraig2.0 View Post
    Pretty good write up, a couple things you are a little off on though...

    - Schmidgall was moved to middle backer because he can flat out run, Bolt said as much during the spring. Expect him on the field in passing situations.

    - At corner don't forget about Zac Sandvig. Before his injury he was the number 3 corner over McDowell.
    I'm afraid that I tend to forget about both Sandvigs. All the comments about "not the greatest athlete" and "not the fastest guy" add up after a while. And thanks for the correction about Schmidgall.



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    Re: Twenty Questions, Cyclone Football Style 11-20

    Quote Originally Posted by IsUaClone2 View Post
    I'm not sure but perhaps you didn't notice that we have a new set of coaches and a new philosophy. I can agree with your statement for much of of ISU's history but not so much now. We may not yet be able to recruit a full roster of five star sure-things but there are some well-qualified players out there who have detected a change in ISU football and want to be a part of it.

    Take a look. I think you'll like it.
    i have taken my look and I DO like what i see, i was simply giving my penny of a thought.



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