CF Exclusive: Herman on the offensive signees

By Chris Williams, Publisher

Speed and athleticism. Those two words get tossed around an awful lot on Signing Day all across America. The word is that Iowa State’s 2010 class is rich in both categories, especially on the offensive side of the football. There will be a new scholarship quarterback on campus this fall, along with two running backs and three wide receivers. The man in charge of orchestrating all of these prospects into the system is offensive coordinator Tom Herman. Here’s and exclusive interview with Herman that took place immediately following yesterday’s Signing Day press conference with Paul Rhoads.

CF: What makes Jared Barnett your type of quarterback?

TH: There is one play on his highlight tape when he catches the ball in the gun and gets it out to his outside receiver on a hitch screen and he gets it there probably faster than any of our guys do right now. Even with Austen and he has a pretty smooth delivery. Jerome’s delivery is pretty herky-jerky but he has a very strong arm and the ball comes out really, really hard. I think that both of those guys kind of make up for that. But this kid can get the ball out of his hands quickly. He has played in the gun for his whole career. In high school, he is 19-3 as a starting quarterback. He holds a bunch of different records at Garland High School, which is a perennial state qualifier and they compete for state championships. He is accurate. He is very accurate. He is a winner and can make plays with his feet. Our guys don’t need to be Vince Young, Michael Vick or Pat White. They don’t need to be that good of runners. We definitely want an accurate thrower before a runner but our guys certainly have to make plays with their feet too. He can do that as well.

CF: Is there any sort of time frame on him at all?

TH: Not one. It would be unfair to him and the guys on campus to say because it would be pure speculation right now, having not seen him take a college snap. Every single one of these recruits that we bring in, we hope that they beat somebody out here at Iowa State. We tell our guys when they get on campus and we tell these recruits, when we are recruiting them that next year we are going to try to find better than you. That is our job as coaches here at Iowa State and recruiters for Iowa State. No job is set in stone. Nobody has this thing figured out that every year, we are going to try to get better than what we have on the field.

CF: Let’s talk about these two running backs. Shontrelle Johnson is your headliner. What are your thoughts on him?

TH: Dynamic. Explosive. There are guys who have really good acceleration but maybe their top end speed isn’t great. There are guys who have great balance but maybe they can’t accelerate through a hole. I think that he has got balance, speed, acceleration, burst, a vision. It comes in a little smaller package which is fine with us. Because he is such a tough runner too, which you’ll see when you watch him on film more. He is kind of the compete guy. Duck (Duran) Hollis is a little bit thicker, bigger back that is certainly not slow footed by any stretch of the imagination but still brings quite a bit of speed and power to the game but maybe not quite as elusive as Shontrelle but surely, a very, very capable back that has all of the qualities that we want.

CF: These three receivers…starting with Jarvis West. I’ve seen his highlight tape. I know what he can do. But a lot of people are going to look at 5-6, 148 and say what?

TH: The first-team All-Big 12 kick returner (Brandon Banks of Kansas State) this year was 5-foot-6 and about 160-pounds. It is like Coach Rhoads said, if you are going to have the kind of speed and ability and change of direction that Jarvis has, if that existed in a 6-foot or a 6-foot-2 frame, you probably wouldn’t see him on campus at Iowa State. We needed to upgrade our athleticism and in order to do so, I think that you have to sacrifice a little bit in terms of height. That is fine with us. You see it day after day and Saturday after Saturday. Guys who are playmakers when the ball is in their hands don’t have to be six-feet tall. You can survive in today’s college football world being that size.

CF: These guys all appear to be slot receivers. Is Chris Young a guy who you might be able to put out wide?

TH: I think that gone are the days that the little speedy guys play inside and the big tall possession guys play outside. I kind of changed my philosophy on that having visited Missouri a couple of years ago when I was still at Rice. They were playing with two tight ends in their slot almost all of the time. These were draftable tight ends who were 6-foot-5. They were throwing them tunnel screens and bubbles and all of that. Those guys were making a bunch of yard because they were tough to tackle in their own right for different reasons. I don’t know that in today’s landscape of college football that it matters much. We are going to put the best three or four receivers on the field and figure out a spot for them. To say that they are slots or say that they are outside guys at this point would be ignorant because we don’t know. If they all come in and they are the three best players, then two of them will be on the outside and one in the slot. We’ll figure all of that out when the time comes.