By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
Caution: This is not your ordinary recruiting story.
Iowa State didn’t suddenly stumble upon Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee defensive tackle Quinton Pompey at the last minute of the 2011 recruiting game.
Connections, a bunch of hard work and maybe a little bit of luck all led up to the 6-foot-3, 300-pound prospect signing with the Cyclones on Monday.
It all began with the Cyclone football recruiting class of 2010.
Iowa State’s rising star in the recruiting world, defensive tackles coach Shane Burnham, was at Manatee recruiting Ace Sanders, a 5-foot-7 wide receiver who went on to be on the SEC’s All-Freshman team at South Carolina during the 2010 season.
Burnham obviously didn’t get Sanders to Ames, but he would eventually go 2-for-3 at Manatee.
During his recruitment of Sanders, Burnham discovered two junior prospects that he had to have. Pompey was one. A 6-foot-1, 175-pound wide receiver named Quenton Bundrage was the other.
Quinton Pompey’s story
Pompey’s journey towards becoming a Cyclone took place on a long, bumpy and sometimes frustrating road. Throughout the process, it was a known fact to coaches around America that in order for him to qualify academically, Pompey needed to do some serious work in the classroom.
“I didn’t know if he would be able to do it with the amount of time he had left and what he was up against academically,” Burnham said. “I still recruited him. Every time that I went to see Bundrage, I made a point to visit with Quinton Pompey.”
Iowa State signed five Florida prospects (including Pompey) in its class of 2011. Needless to say, the Cyclone coaching staff spends a lot of time in the Sunshine State.
“I made sure to get Quinton Pompey in front of Tom Herman. (Courtney) Messingham saw him. Coach (Paul) Rhoads got to know him, Every time that we went down there, Quinton was part of our trip,” Burnham said. “We knew that he had a lot of work to do.”
That was during the fall. Now fast forward to January, when Burnham placed a call into Pompey’s head coach to check on his progress.
“He said that he had done an unbelievable job in the classroom and actually raised his GPA to where it is today. Not many kids are able to do what he did,” Burnham said.
A family situation
Grades were no longer a factor, yet another hurdle faced Iowa State in its goal to make Pompey the headliner of its 2011 class.
Pompey wanted to play big time college football with his brother, Chris. Together, the Pompey boys dominated local Florida high school offensive lines for four seasons. As seniors at Manatee, the pair combined for 121 tackles and 23 sacks, while their team went 12-1 on the season. Quinton was a monster in the middle. Chris, who Rivals.com rates as a two-star prospect, was a strongside defensive end.
“They had decided that they wanted to go to school together,” Burnham said. “Some schools had offered both of them. Quinton had some schools offer him alone, but not Chris.”
Iowa State was one of those programs that only offered Quinton.
“In mid-January, he kept saying that he wasn’t interested in coming alone,” Burnham said. “It was a family decision that even though the opportunities weren’t the same for his brother, that Quinton would be interested in taking a look at Iowa State. He came up and it worked out.”
More connections helped Iowa State’s cause…
According to Burnham, this success story all started with another Iowa State 2011 signee, Manatee wide receiver Quenton Bundrage, who verbally committed to the Cyclone program on Jan. 16.
“If Quenton Bundrage was not coming here, I don’t think that I could have convinced Quinton Pompey to come here,” Burnham said. “My best recruiting was getting Bundrage to recruit Pompey for me. They are buddies. They are close.”
There are more than the two guys named Quenton, or Quinton, who contributed to this story.
Pompey’s stepfather, former All-American Patrick McNeil, played under Iowa State defensive coordinator (and Shane Burnham’s father), Wally Burnham at Florida State back in the early 90’s.
“There was some familiarity there with our families,” Burnham said.
Remember that name Ace Sanders? Well Sanders’ father, Tracy, also played for Wally Burnham at Florida State.
Enough about the process. The bottom line is that Iowa State signed a quality player at a crucial position very late in the game.
Here’s Burnham’s scouting report for the newest member of Iowa State’s defensive line.
“I don’t have anybody right now who is his size. When you look at him, he is a put together 300-pound guy. What I got excited about was that he has really skinny ankles. That gets me excited because he can do well on his feet for a guy his size. He does a really nice job with his hands. That is something that you can try and coach but the more I coach, the more I think it is something that you either have or you don’t to a certain extent. A guy that big, we’ll have to work on his flexibility from the waist up. There is no telling what that kid will be three or four years from now.”
Will he play as a true freshman?
It is hard to play as a true freshman on either side of the football, but Pompey has a shot.
“Three of our six guys have never played a meaningful snap at Iowa State so when you look at it, you see that he is really no further behind than half of our guys as far as experience goes,” Burnham said. “I don’t think it is far-fetched to think if he comes in here and performs, he can play as a true freshman. Size wise, he won’t be out of place.”
Pompey will really have to turn some heads to pass Stephen Ruempolhamer, Jake McDonough or Cleyon Laing on Iowa State’s 2011 depth chart. But those guys will need blows. After that top three, it is wide-open.