By Trevor Enerson, CycloneFantatic.com’s Fan Recruiting Guru (AKA Yaman3)
By now, I think the majority of the Cyclone fan base has begun to see that Paul Rhoads and his staff are improving the football program. When Rhoads was hired, I said that his first item of business had to be changing the attitude around the program. I think it was clear in 2009 with the win at Nebraska and the Texas win in 2010 that he had succeeded in that task. (I know Texas wasn’t very good, but they were ranked at the time and they are still Texas).
The next step was to change the fanbase. Though it hasn’t shown in attendance, I believe that most fans really believe that Paul Rhoads can get Iowa State to a point of consistent success. I would call the attitude cautiously optimistic.
The next step then becomes getting potential players (recruits) to believe in the same things. I am of the opinion that the 2010 class of recruits has as much talent as any class ever brought in to Iowa State. I haven’t been shy about getting that opinion out there either. There are guys like Devondrick Nealy who had huge offers from all over. There are guys like Jevohn Miller and Aaron Horne who had next to no offers but have shown already that they can play. There are guys like David Irving who may not be ready for next season, but with their physical talent and some development have the potential to be great players. I really like how the last class ended up.
Now things are starting to heat up with the 2012 class. Verbal offers have been out for some time. Barkley Hill, Luke Knott and Grant Rohach have already taken advantage of that offer and committed to play for Iowa State. It’s a good start but let’s take a look at where this class is going. I’m not going to mess around with numbers. For one, it’s far too early to project exactly how many scholarships will be available. We don’t even know who will be here next season. For another, I never get the numbers right anyway so it doesn’t do any good. So, here we go with the offense:
QB: Iowa State has already taken two commitments from quarterbacks. With the amount of QBs on the roster, I feel that Knott will likely move to safety so let’s just say they have one. Outside of athletes that have the potential to move to another position, I don’t’ see Iowa State taking another one. Rohach won’t be moving away from quarterback. That’s what he was brought in to do.
RB: Assuming that no one leaves and everyone qualifies, Iowa State is already six deep at that position without anyone graduating for three more years. While that is an awesome feeling right now, remember that three of them will leave at the same time. The running back position is in good shape there and have already taken one in Barkley Hill who looks to be more of a power back. I would think the staff will still be looking for another smaller, quicker back in 2012. My guess is they will be pretty picky at this position though.
TE/WR: Tight end is a place I have trouble figuring out what Iowa State actually has right now. I can list off the players, but I can’t say how effective they will be. I also don’t know if Colin Franklin’s production was due to Tom Herman wanting to target the tight end or Tom Herman wanting to target Colin Franklin. I would lean toward the latter right now. I do think that the staff would like to sign a tight end to this class just to hold on to the depth at this position.
At receiver, we all know there was a handful brought in last year. I thought that it was vital for ISU to nab an outside receiver. They recently did that with Quan West, who stands 6-foot-4. West appears to be the Marquis Hamilton type of guy who goes out and blocks well and also uses his strength on third down to grab tough yards. There are still a lot of slot receivers who seem to be very talented. If they do what I believe they can do this year, I think Iowa State can again afford to be a little picky.
OL: Has anybody heard if the staff likes the young guys on the line? I think I have heard about 126 times that Coach Rhoads and Coach Bill Bleil love these guys. That said, the offensive line is and will be crucial for this offense. Fans talk about explosive plays a lot. The offensive line gets that started. In this system, Iowa State needs guys who can not only blow people off the ball but also get to the second level quickly and turn a five-yard carry into 15 or 20. In the last class, the staff only took three projected offensive linemen. In this class, I see them taking at least that many to continue to build depth.
As you can see, I don’t see a lot of pressing needs on the offensive side of the football for 2012. A lot of fans have spoken out about the amount of offensive recruits in the past couple classes. It’s true, there have a been a lot of guys brought in to score points. Since that has been done, I think it has given ISU some flexibility in what they can do or have to do on that side this year. There isn’t a position that I would say is a desperate need right now. That can all change. People transfer. Guys get hurt and other things happen to adjust the numbers but, speaking in the moment, I just don’t see a place where the Cyclones need players to compete on that side. That’s not to say ISU can’t improve the talent level. I will have to wait to judge that part of the roster once the season is well underway.